Report by Paula Antolini
March 28, 2017 12:14PM EDT
OPINION / LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Letter to the Editor from Larry Craybas: ‘Please vote YES in support of the following Senate Bills submitted by Senator Toni Boucher’ SB86, SB87, SB 90
E-Mail sent by Larry Craybas on March 27, 2017, to every Appropriations Committee member (52 Republicans and Democrats):
To: All members of the Appropriations Committee:
Please vote YES in support of the following Senate Bills submitted by Senator Toni Boucher
I am the Chairman of the Bethel Board of Education and have been for 10 years. I have been involved in every one of our 7 union contract negotiations during my tenure. The Board has an excellent reputation and working relationship with its unions and their personnel. Over 50% of union members live in the Bethel area and have friends, neighbors, and relatives who, in one way or another, are associated with or are involved in our School System. I believe I am safe in saying they all are deeply concerned about the financial conditions in Connecticut. They have shown this concern by accepting contractual changes that clearly demonstrate a willingness to address the skyrocketing, uncontrollable costs of educating the children of Bethel, certainly not excluding their own children and grandchildren.
Bethel like all 169 communities in Connecticut, except perhaps a few, has an aging population with a growing number of older citizens on fixed income and/or Social Security. Our school employees recognize this and believe they have a moral obligation to help keep Bethel a vibrant, caring, liveable Town. In contract negotiations, union and non-union employee Health Care Plan premium contributions have been increased to be in the 18-20% range, not too far from the cost sharing ranges that exist in the private sector. Pension Plans have all been moved to Defined Contributions unlike the reluctance to do so in those unions controlled by the state. Wages have been kept realistic and track very closely to the cost of living index, negotiation after negotiation.
I’m sure you can appreciate the dismay and the questions we, the School Administration and Board of Education, get when asked “why are we the only employees and taxpayers concerned about the state of fiscal well-being in Connecticut? When will state controlled unions do their part and share in fixing these problems as we have been asked to do, negotiation after negotiation.
And now we face the “coup de grace” … Governor Malloy’s proposal to have Bethel cover a third of teacher pension costs on a retirement contract we had no role in negotiating. This is an incredulous move. The combined effect of less ECS funding and this pass-down of the state’s unwillingness to permanently address the ballooning pension-liability financial problem could force Bethel to terminate 79 teachers, Adminsitrators and school support personnel, that’s approximately 20% of our entire staff!
As elected officials, who are to represent all the residents and taxpayers of Connecticut, we expect you to make the right decisions and take the necessary actions to do your jobs … that being to fix the financial issues that have plagued our state for far too long. That is what we have been elected to do and are doing in Bethel, and that is what each of you were elected to do too! Please know that we value the work our School District team has been doing for our children, parents, and the taxpayers of our Town. We will not sit idly by and let inaction and poor decisions tear down what has been accomplished here.
Please begin now by voting YES on these three Senate Bills.
Larry Craybas is the Chairman of the Bethel Board of Education
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual mentioned and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Bethel Advocate.