Source: Sherman Publications

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Letter to the editor
A call for more school savings

March 30, 2011

Dear Editor,

While Superintendent Rod Rock is certainly eloquent about the impact of budget cuts on students in the Clarkston schools ("Some 'cheese and whine' about school budget," March 16), his criticism of the governor's proposed budget, like that of so many other critics, offers no constructive solution to the state's budget problems.

And it predicts the layoff of 155 teachers as the result of further state school aid reductions, assuming this is the only way to reduce expenditures.

Conspicuously missing is another alternative, suggested by the governor's proposals: bringing employee benefits into line with the nonpublic sector by requiring employees to pay 20 percent of their health insurance premiums and sharing the cost of other benefits.

From my quick review of information available on the district's web site, it appears that school employees have no payroll deductions for their health insurance and receive plans with minimal co-pays and deductibles.

Other benefits, such as dental and vision insurance, are equally generous. Not to mention the defined benefit retirement plan, something that has long ago disappeared from the private sector.

The state has a budget crisis. The governor's proposals spread the cost of dealing with it over many groups.

The schools should not be exempted. I urge Superintendent Rock and the school board to look closely at realistic savings in employee benefits and other areas that won't require teacher layoffs.

Richard Bisio