Email to Team Plumb, (Letter below)
I would ask as teammates if you believe we are better communicating then posturing, the time is now to speak to Mr. Plumb. I see no benefit in Portsmouth going back to Court for full funding of the school budget, and I would expect both sides to dig-in over the next two weeks. As I stated in my blog www.sosportsmouth.com, “this is insane.” Join with me in calling for a compromise before we waste $100ks on legal fees and reports, for the same outcome. Portsmouth schools face $2.07 million in cuts to State Education Aid over the next ten years, $207,000 annually. We need to get through this year to position our future forward with administration, unions, and operations. We believe an investment for the average citizen of $10/month is prudent and necessary. See more at www.sosportsmouth.com.
In response to Mr. Plumb’s letter:
Mr. Plumb fails to recognize is the School Committee budget is 2.51% higher than last year, in line with most every department in town. The exception is the Fire Department who masterfully rewrote their health contract. The School Committee is the only other department that receives income from the State, that State Aid was also cut causing the structural deficit. Mr. Plumb fails to recognize the actions taken by unions and administration to bring the FY 2011 budget in at a 2.51%: closing Elmhurst, freezing salaries, controlling costs, and laying off teachers. While Mr. Plumb naively assumes that the FY 2011 contract can be negotiated over a fortnight, he also is misleading residents by only using selective facts. Yes, teachers between the 9th step and the 10nth step receive a large increase, but it is the last contractual increase they will receive through the step process (required by State Law). Mr. Plumb fails to state that college educated teachers, some with Master Degrees, begin their teaching careers in the high $30K, maximizing in the low $70K - these are not ridiculous amounts; and, the last time I was in the classroom incredibly well deserved (see below for Steps 8, 9 & 10). As I stated above, our teachers have frozen salary increases these past years. As to health benefits, clearly this is a negotiation point, but Portsmouth teachers were the original leaders in paying cost-share before any other District. It is simply too easy to make the teachers the fault of the lack of support from the State. It is simply too easy to use macro-economic conditions to abdicate leadership. We have a School District that needs a budget on July 1, 2010.
I wrote previously on the SOS Facebook page, "My fear is our leaders stand on politics and we abdicate our leadership to the Courts." This in fact will be the final outcome because we lack communication and the will, no, the strength, to compromise. Please, as Mr. Plumb’s teammates, let’s call a different play this time. I will stand and honor Jeff for the strength in stating his conviction and compromising for our community. That is leadership!