Niagara Gazette — Christopher Roser is a desperate man heading into the final week of budget preparation in the Lewiston-Porter School District.
Roser, the superintendent responsible for assembling a spending plan which could see 41 staff members – of which more than 12 are teachers – either lose their jobs or see their hours drastically cut, is looking for help saving money any place he can.
Once again, he's turning to the teachers union, the group likely to feel the worst effects of the cuts, to try to save as much money as possible.
"We're requesting the union continue paying 10 percent of its health care contributions," Roser said.
Roser's latest budget session, held during Tuesday's school board meeting, projected the district would spend $39.2 million in 2013-14, even with any health care concession the union approves. He also tossed out the idea of exceeding New York state's property tax levy cap, which currently sits at 4 percent.
Officially, the district's teachers agreed to contribute 7 percent next year after a deal was instituted last April to avoid job losses heading into the current school year. Its members are currently contributing 10 percent this year as part of the concession.
Increasing the union's contributions, which would be paid out of a $1 million trust in the union's name, would provide Roser with $128,000, which would save approximately two additional teaching positions.
But Lewiston-Porter united Teachers President Kevin Jaruszewski said Roser has yet to formally approach his executive board with any formal proposal for saving the district any money. In fact, he said, Roser has yet to provide him with much information at all concerning any possible scenarios, including a possible one-year wage freeze members could adopt to save jobs.
"We wanted to run numbers to see what the impact would be," Jaruszewski said about a wage freeze. "But we never got any numbers from the district. So we've had discussions, but they haven't been in depth."