Letters: Step increases keep costs down

An empty classroom in 2011.

An empty classroom in 2011. (Credit: Daniel Brennan)

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I strenuously disagree with Newsday's assertion that teacher unions are in no rush to negotiate contracts because "the raises just keep coming" in the form of salary increments ["Baby steps to control costs," Editorial, Sept. 27].

To clarify, "step'' increments are not raises, but forms of deferred compensation aimed at saving districts money. If teachers were to reach their maximum salary within a few years, as is the case with Long Island police officers and other public sector workers, the cost to school districts would balloon exponentially. Taking this into consideration, teacher unions have negotiated step increments, whereby it takes 20 to 30 years to reach maximum salary, easing the burden on districts.

In addition, Newsday blames teacher unions for pressuring state lawmakers not to overturn the Triborough Amendment, which protects step increases when contracts expire. Perhaps lawmakers aren't merely acquiescing to teacher unions, but they actually understand that without the Triborough Amendment, districts would have no incentive to bargain with teacher unions, because old contracts would no longer be in force.

Lori Skonberg, Lawrence

Editor's note: The writer is the president of the Lawrence Teachers' Association.
 

Contrary to your position that teacher salary schedules lead to high salaries, the basic purpose of step schedules is to save taxpayers money by deferring payments to qualified teachers for an average of 20 years, rather than have teachers receive full pay after five years, like other public service employees.

By not paying the full amount of salary between years five and 20, taxpayers save millions, while the individual teacher can never recoup thousands of dollars deferred for 15 years. As a public school teacher, I would have favored a five-year salary schedule. I retired after 35 years of teaching in Miller Place, in 1990, when my salary finally reached $57,000.

Donard Pranzo, Port Jefferson
 

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