I have been so disappointed that after all the concerns expressed by the taxpayers of this city, as well as expressed by the school board on behalf of them, the South Burlington Educators Union has refused to join with us by voluntarily offering a salary freeze for FY 20/21.

They have shown blatant disregard for the devastating financial hardship many, many residents of the city are dealing with due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with no clear end in sight.

One would think they could all survive very nicely on the same salaries they made this past year. Does anyone know of anyone in the private sector getting a raise this year? How about the numerous other educational and medical institutions that have cut salaries and positions already? Are our teachers an island unto themselves?

It has been suggested by certain School Board Members regarding contract negotiations:

1) It is not fair for residents to say they will vote no on budget 3 unless they know what salary agreement the SBEA reaches with the board. It has been argued that collective bargaining has certain rules and they must be followed, and it takes time for conclusions to be reached.

However, the SB School District Administrators Association met with board representatives and agreed to a salary freeze. All that was required was setting up a meeting where terms were agreed to. This required no difficult negotiations. They simply stood up and did what they knew to be right under these unprecedented circumstances and with empathy for the taxpayers of the city they work for.

2) The School Board Chair, Elizabeth Fitzgerald was asked by a member of the community if there is any legal reason why the SBEA could not do the same thing as the SBAA did (that is quickly agree to terms of no salary increase or any other terms such as step increases only). Her answer was: there is no legal reason why the SBEA could not agree to meet with the intent of reaching consensus on a new contract which includes a one-year salary freeze.

I have truly been saddened that the SBEA has chosen to inflict this extraordinary division in our community during a time that they should be standing with us in trying to protect as many district jobs and school programming opportunities as possible. It’s not too late, but it will be very soon.

Marla Weiner

South Burlington

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