Budget & Contract Update

Dear BEA Members:

The School Committee, through the Superintendent, has again asked that the BEA reopen the contract for the purpose of lowering the negotiated salaries for next year. After careful deliberation, the Negotiating Committee (Unit A, representing approximately 90% of our members) declined this request.

The Town of Burlington currently holds $6 million in reserves between the Free Cash Account and the Stabilization Fund. These reserves have been accumulated in order to preserve programs and services during times of economic downturn and should be used to cover the approximately $370,000 gap between the Ways & Means guideline budget and the level-service budget.

The current proposed budget exceeds the level-service budget by approximately $530,000 in additional requests by administration. We applaud the administration’s desire to grow the schools with the addition of new materials, technology, and programs. However, this growth must be funded by the community, not paid for out of the pockets of teachers.

While many of our members are Burlington residents, many more are residents of other communities where they likely pay a higher residential tax rate and have been asked to pass overrides in the past in order to preserve schools and other municipal services. It is not fair to expect members to finance the growth of the schools both where they live and where they work.

Furthermore, it is not accurate to portray Burlington as experiencing the same level of economic distress as many of the communities across the state. Careful planning and limited spending has allowed the town to accumulate the necessary reserves to see us through this difficult time. Unlike many of our neighbors, Burlington has cash reserves, a comparatively low tax rate, and has not instituted fees for buses, athletics, or trash, leaving it with many options for increasing revenue while still meeting its contractual obligations and maintaining programs.

We urge the School Committee to work with Ways & Means and the other town committees to explore ways to maintain programs and services that honor their commitment to the students and teachers of Burlington Public Schools.

When there are developments to report, members will be updated through email, Twitter (follow: MarcusBEA), and this website as well as 10-minute building meetings as needed. In the meantime, Building Representatives are available to answer questions and concerns.

Note: The Ways & Means budget guideline for FY2011 is 2.5% over the FY2010 budget. A level-service budget is the funding necessary to meet negotiated salaries and maintain current programs and materials. For FY2011, this would be approximately 3.5% over the FY2010 budget.