The college has been very responsible with its money. It has not asked Essex or Franklin County to increase its financial support in the past three years. (Thus any increase in our salaries would not affect local tax rates.) Yet somehow during this time, the college has still been able to go from a negative fund balance to one of $3.1 million (in a budget of about $13 million). How was that possible? One way was to not give raises to professional staff, even when the staff of every other college in the region received an increase. Another was to let staff members go and not replace them, nor to replace others who left for a variety of reasons, thus increasing the workload on everyone else.
NCCC professional staff are already among the lowest paid of college faculty in New York State, not to mention of teachers in general. Our starting salary, for an instructor with a master’s degree, is 32 percent lower than that of Clinton Community College, 17 percent lower than that of Adirondack Community College, and 26 percent lower than that of the Lake Placid school district. Additionally, faculty at local colleges, and even workers in Essex and Franklin counties have received raises over each of the past three years, while we have not.
In addition to receiving lower pay, we contribute more of our health insurance costs than most other public employees do: between 10 and 25 percent of our premium costs. Our insurance itself is the state employee plan (NYSHIP), which is less expensive than what most school districts have.
No one goes into teaching or working with students solely for the money. We are all in education because we have a passion to help students succeed. But we still have to live. The college estimates that it has an economic impact on the region of about $50 million a year. A large part of that comes from staff members who buy homes, pay taxes, shop, do business, and own businesses here. Our staff members also serve on planning boards and environmental advisory committees, organize artistic events, publish scholarly articles, work against child abuse, maintain websites for local arts organizations and serve on their boards, bring Santa Claus to local children, and even raise money on our own for student activities. We organize student community service projects like massages for Ironman athletes and nursing home residents, blood pressure and cancer screening clinics, volunteering at the fire department, cleaning up wilderness areas, collecting food and toy donations, putting together community athletic clinics, and much more.
This column was written by the North Country Community College Association of Professionals, represented by President Carol Vossler.