Editor, The Spotlight:
In response to some recent editorial letters about the Bethlehem School District’s budget process, I wish to clarify some misconceptions that have been printed. In his letters, Mr. Scott Bonnano states that the Bethlehem Central School District teachers have been awarded large salary increases, are enjoying wonderful retirement benefits and other “perks.”
Actually, in the last 3 years, the B.C. teachers have agreed to taking less money in salaries in exchange for a contractual extension. In fact, we were the first school district in the area last year to vote to give up our contractual raises in order to save teaching positions, and subsequently educational programs. In total, the Bethlehem Central Teacher’s Association has saved the school district 2.2 million dollars! It should also be noted that the Bethlehem Administration and the BCUEA also voted to decline on salary raises last year. Other nearby school districts such as South Colonie followed our lead and took similar actions.
As a B.C. teacher of 15+ years, I can assure the community that my fellow colleagues and I did not enter the teaching profession for the money or the perks. Instead, we teach because we love educating children and wish to instill in them a desire for continued learning so they can contribute to society in the future.
This is evident in the many hours we spend outside of the school day, on weekends and vacations working to plan and prepare instructional materials that are based on best teaching practices. Maintaining websites or blogs and writing weekly newsletters to keep parents informed are among our contributions.
Additionally, teachers lead and attend workshops, hold after school science and math fairs and other activities. High quality music and drama productions also require extensive time outside of the classroom.
For the record, Bethlehem teachers and support staff do not have high salaries, 401K options, or other “perks” known in business or sales (monetary gifts or trips, bonuses, company cars, reimbursement of car insurance and mileage costs, spending accounts, etc). I know many teachers that work second jobs to bring in necessary income. Despite this, many teachers often spend hundreds of dollars of their own money on books, instructional materials and technology for use in their classrooms.