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Letter: Commack schools need priorities

An elementary school in Harlem is the first

An elementary school in Harlem is the first in New York City to offer regular Arabic-language instruction. Credit: File Photo

The Commack school board has once again proven its cowardice and chosen to eviscerate the educational experience of the children while continuing to grant raises to most on the school district payroll ["School board adopts $171.3 million budget," News, April 23].

The last teacher's contract was executed with the recession already upon us so, in short, we granted multiyear raises when the economy was already tanking. Cuts over the past six years have left the students with fewer teachers, electives, clubs, athletic teams and coaches.

The current compensation system is unsustainable. It is a math equation a fourth-grader could calculate. The teachers' compensation is the lion's share of the budget and, deservedly, will draw the most attention in the debate over how to balance the budget. Their union spins the argument as "anti-teacher" sentiment for anybody looking for a balanced approach, and that spin tends to work well.

Ironically, the teachers union is the only entity with the power to prevent the elimination of 36 teaching positions this year, but the union refuses to renegotiate to save jobs. Instead, the union offers up its young -- who will be the first to be laid off -- to preserve the compensation for the more senior.

Here's a newsflash for the unions: It's not about the teachers. It's about the kids. If Commack were able to put a three-year freeze on compensation for those with 10 years or more of employment, I would expect most staff would opt to stay, because it's a good place to work, they make good money and have great benefits. Many of us in the private sector have made similar decisions recently and are earning less than a few years ago.

It's time for the employees to consider the kids and stop playing the victim.

George Morgan, East Northport