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JCS teachers agree to salary, benefit concessions

JOHNSBURG- With the recent release of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's state budget came the detrimental news of cuts in state aid to local schools. Johnsburg Central School (JCS) will see a 8.46 percent hit, which translates to $275,342.

After being warned of a 2-3 percent cut in state aid this year, superintendent Mike Markwica was not expecting such a drastic loss. The cuts will have a 2.73 percent impact on the revenue side of the JCSbudget, said business official Kathy Spring.

"In recent years we have seen many changes in the amount of state aid we receive," Markwica said. "But, never a cut."

Recent budget cuts and changes in state aid have begun to have an impact on JCS programing.

"We started to feel it last year," said first grade teacher Debbie Bedard. "Looking at what is coming from the state this year, it may take years to recover."

In response to the cuts at the state level, JCS teachers have chosen to make sacrifices from their personal salaries and benefit packages in order to put funds back into the annual budget. All teacher at JCS have chosen to either switch their health insurance plans to a cheaper policy, or return part of next year's salary to the school.

"Discussions started regarding how we were going to react to the budget problems," Bedard said. "We knew we wanted to do something to help."

During her 25 years at Johnsburg, Bedard has seen student programs cut as a result of budget cuts as academic standards continue to rise.

Academic programs and quality need to remain strong if Johnsburg students are going to succeed, she said.

The voluntary changes will not affect teacher contracts. Insurance changes will happen immediately and salary changes will begin next year.

Bedard commented that she would have been surprised if any of the JCS teachers didn't participate.

"We work hard to put students first," she said.

JCS saw 100 percent participation from teachers in this initiative to save the district money.

"We all have realized that we are in a tough position," Markwica said. "I am thankful for their insight and dedication to both the community and the district."

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