March 25 06:27 AM
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Parent responds to criticisms of Capac School Board members

To the Editor:

Jennifer Gershick makes a key point in her letter last week. Too few parents take part in their children's education by attending Parent Advisory Council and school board meetings.

Three families participate in the council at Capac High School, including myself, and one parent, a school board member. We meet with Matt Drake at Capac Middle School.

Puzzled am I when Ms. Gershick states the school board was "out of touch." She admits to never attending a meeting, but has become an expert in the school board's actions.

Everyone knows financial problems exist everywhere. Capac Schools are no different. Numerous financial questions must be answered in an atmosphere of uncertainty. Falling state revenues, property values, and enrollment combine with rising labor, supplies, fuel and energy costs. After all, deny it or not, the school system is a business, and revenue must come in line with expenses. Several years ago expenses exceeded income by nearly a half-million dollars. At that rate the schools' operating fund would be depleted; the school system would be broke.

A determination was made by the board to balance the budget. Costs would be cut, but still maintain the high level of education quality. The Capac School Board should be admired for fiscal responsibility. While the goal of a balanced budget is still elusive, they are trying to keep the spending under control.

The "Critical List" designation means the Michigan Education Association (union) can bring greater pressure to bear on Capac Schools by authorizing job actions such as work stoppages, strikes, sickouts etc. Because the teachers were forced back to work under the old contract, the union filed an unfair labor practice grievance claim. Since the school board has to defend itself, it must spend money that could go for education for that. As far as the paid negotiator the union first brought an attorney, their professional representative, to the negotiating table. One would not send a lamb to deal with a lion from the union. I believe the school board had no choice.

Ms. Gershick tells of a school board member calling the parents "childish." His comment was directed toward the actions of the Capac Education Association not parents. I was there and I clearly knew the difference.

The CEA has one goal. Get better benefits and pay for its members. The school board must keep costs in line with revenue. Eighty-seven percent of the school expenses is labor related. Presently the CEA wants more; that is their only solution. They get excellent pay and benefits. Thanks to a system called "steps" about one half of the teachers get an automatic pay raise every year. So even without a new contract they get a pay raise. How much more do they want? But they can't expect to get pay packages like some big city schools, can they? Everyone has faced layoffs and pay cuts; they want more! CEA don't be so greedy and using parents as weapons to gain your contract! Settle up!

David Naeyaert, Allenton
March 04, 2009

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