Easton School Board Cuts 102 Jobs
The Easton Area School Board has approved its 2012-2013 budget, which raises taxes and eliminates dozens of positions.
The Easton Area School Board has approved the district's 2012-2013 budget, a $133 million spending plan which eliminates 102 jobs.
The board voted 5-1 Tuesday evening to OK the budget, which is balanced with a combination of those job cuts, a 2.2 percent property tax increase, and $1.5 million in reserve money.
Michael Simonetta, the district's chief operating officer, said the budget raises Easton's millage rate to 55.4, a 1.7 mill increase.
In layman's terms, this means an average increase of $88 on a tax bill for a property assessed at $75,000.
The jobs cut by the district range from teachers -- 49 of them in total, including 22 just from the Easton Area Middle School -- to custodians to part-time lunch monitors. (We've attached a PDF listing all the positions).
"It's kind of sad and unfortuate that we're here again," Jena Brodhead, of the teacher's union, told the board before the vote. "It's become a yearly event and we’d hope to see that end."
Last year, the board considered cutting 160 positions, but ultimately backed off making that move when the teachers agreed to a pay freeze that saved the district $27 million. In 2010, the district eliminated more than 70 jobs.
Earlier this month, board member William Rider asked the teachers to reopen their contract, which board members have called "unsustainable."
The teachers have declined to reopen the contract, arguing they gave up money last year with the understanding that it would be enough for the next few years.
The budget passed without much discussion from the board or comment from the public. Board member Robert Moskaitis cast the only vote against it, because he felt it doesn't go far enough.
Easton has a lot of good points, he said, but added:
"There's one thing we're lacking. And that's money. The public deserves a zero percent increase."
Moskaitis said the district was "transferring wealth to the members of the teachers union."
This was met by cries of "What? What?!" from union members in the audience.
Initial reports of this year's job cuts showed the district eliminating 77 positions. That's because part-time positions weren't originally taken into account, Simonetta said.
He said district officials will begin meeting Wednesday to find other ways to cut costs. The job cuts become official on the last day of school.