Alfonso Robinson

Political activist, online journalist

2009 EDUCATION BUDGET FLASHBACK: While teachers gave back to the city, two principals were set to receive a nine percent pay increase


Cross post from HatCityBLOG

The bad blood between the City Council and the Board of Ed (as well as Mayor Boughton new found line-in-the-sand attitude over the education budget) has been brewing for about the last year.

Unfortunately, due to the lack of proper media coverage, unless you attended the meetings and witness the back and forth in person, there is a good chance that the deteriorating relationship between these elected officials have gone on mostly under the radar.

I’ve been on-hand to videotape a majority of the back and forth between the BOE and City Council over the last year and have reported on most of the activities on my blog.

Here’s one example of an issue that irritated the Minority leader of the council, sparked outrage among residents and teachers, and mostly went unreported in the local mainstream media.

Back in 2009, during a meeting between the common council and board of education regarding the teacher’s contract, Minority leader Tom Saadi expressed his concerns regarding the salaries of administrators in the school system, specifically, the pay increase to two principals who, due to arbitration, were set to receive a nine percent pay increase. Needless to say that the teachers in attendance didn’t take this revelation in a positive manner.

This following write-up was originally posted on February 26 2009:

Minority Leader Tom Saadi questions Danbury School Finance Director Elio Longo on pay increases to principals at last Common Council meeting on the teacher’s contract.
Common Council meeting 02.17.09

I’ve received a GREAT amount of emails from residents and teachers who are alarmed (and pissed off) to find out that two principals (Broadview and Roger’s Park Middle School) are scheduled to receive a NINE percent raise while teachers are scheduled to be laid off under their contract that was approved by the Board of Education but later rejected by the Common Council. Many whom I talked to were stunned to learn about this information and wonder how something like this could happen in this current economic climate (NOTE: The Board of Education (BOE) voted against the administration contract).

ONLY for the purpose of this post, I will stick to the revelation of the raise by Minority Leader Tom Saadi during last week’s meeting as opposed to getting into the details/origins of the pay increase (at this time). Here’s video footage of what transpired between Saadi, Danbury School Finance Director Elio Longo and BOE chairwoman Susan Podhajski when he brought this topic up. For point of reference, take note of President Joe Cavo’s attempt to block Saadi from addressing this issue as well as the reaction from the those in attendance.

(NOTE: Here’s a copy of the salary spreadsheet that’s being referenced by Minority Leader Saadi (click to enlarge). The principals in question (Broadview and Rogers Park Middle School) are circled and their scheduled pay increases are written on the right hand side of the spreadsheet.)


Last Thursday, during my interview with Minority Leader Saadi, the matter of the pay increase came up…

As Saadi stated, just because someone gives you a mind-blowing nine percent raise, doesn’t mean that you have to accept a NINE percent raise. Hopefully the principals of Broadview and Rogers Park Middle school will do the right thing and only take a rate of increase that makes sense.

Equally as puzzling to many is the fact that Common Council President Cavo appeared to attempt and stop Saadi from addressing this topic AND the fact that Mayor Boughton didn’t failed to take a stance on the administration contract in the same manner as he’s currently doing with the teacher’s contract.

…as the News-Times editorial states:

So it’s good to see that the board and the union have agreed to try mediation again, at the urging of Mayor Mark Boughton. A mediation session has been set for March 4. If mediation doesn’t work, the dispute will go to binding arbitration.

It’s easy for city officials to demand concessions from the teachers. But their argument is undercut by their failure to challenge the recent contract approved for school administrators, granting a 4.5 percent increase.

The administrators contract had been settled by binding arbitration and city officials said a return to arbitration would be expensive and could produce the same contract.

Still, the teachers are being subjected to mayoral jawboning for contract changes and the administrators were allowed to escape. It’s not fair.

Simply put, with education taking a lion’s share of the city’s overall budget, where was Mayor Boughton when this god-awful administration contract was being negotiated PRIOR to it being rejected by the Board of Education and sent to arbitration? If the mayor can step in and request a mediation between the BOE and the teacher’s union, it’s logical to assume that he could have done the same thing in the case of the administration’s contract and the BOE, which probably could have saved the city money in terms of arbitration costs alone.

For the mayor not to step in when he had a chance opting instead to allow a binding arbitrator to award NINE PERCENT pay increases is irresponsible giving the current economic state of affairs in this country.

I’ll have more educational flashback posts later…

Categories: General

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