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Here's what they should do.

When it comes time for laid-off Glens Falls school employees to pack up their boxes of personal items and walk out the front door of the school for the final time, the remaining teachers and other district employees who refused to accept a pay freeze should be forced to stand in the hallway as they pass by.

Maybe the sight of their friends and colleagues heading off to the unemployment line will wipe some of the smugness from the faces of those who refused to give up their 4 percent raises for a year. Yup, the powerful union sure did stand tall against the school board's challenge to their superiority and strength.

"We're just asking for what's already owed us," said science teacher Jason Brechko, one of the negotiators for the teachers' union, in defending the union's decision not to forego the raise for a year.

The school board - in trying to cut the budget and bring the projected tax increase down to a reasonable level - wasn't asking teachers to give up anything they already had.

It wasn't asking them to take a pay cut, as many in the private sector have been forced to do during this economy. It wasn't asking them to contribute more for their health insurance or put in longer days, as others in both the private and public sector have done.

While public employees across the state and the country are giving up raises to spare their budgets, Glens Falls teachers and other union employees are taking the opposite stance.

The school board asked for no sacrifice from teachers other than to give up a salary increase they had not yet received. For just one year. The district is offering to give them their 2010-11 salaries in 2011-12. Teachers want any frozen raises restored in 2011-12 to get them back to the same place they would have been had they not given up their raises in 2010-11.

Yet teachers insist they've said "yes" to a pay freeze, when in fact they've only agreed to have their raise deferred a year to give the school board a quick infusion of cash in the coming school year.

Giving the teachers what's already owed to them will cost taxpayers $520,000. That's the cost of the annual pay raise. The school board's alternative is paying them and raising $520,000 more in taxes, or laying off up to 10 district employees, probably including teachers.

But rather than make this one modest one-year concession, the teachers instead voted on some cockamamie scheme to defer their pay raises, essentially saving the district exactly NOTHING to cut the budget.

Nothing to help prevent large tax increases. Nothing to help offset projected cuts in state aid. Nothing to save the jobs of fellow school employees.

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We're not saying that teachers are solely responsible for the district's budget woes. They're not. Glens Falls, like many districts, is top heavy in administrative costs. The district, like many others, probably spends too much in areas that could otherwise be devoted to the educational mission. Glens Falls has four aging elementary schools that are each about half full - yet each must be fully staffed, heated and maintained. Why aren't they closing at least one of them right away? Is a little nostalgia worth a big tax increase?

And we're not saying that the school board didn't play a role in this whole pay freeze dispute. It did, mostly by agreeing to a grossly inappropriate contract at the worst possible time. Anyone with a brain could have predicted that the deal would come back and bite them in the butt, and it has. Now teachers are being asked to forego that raise, and they're saying, "We don't have to, so we're not going to."

There's still time for the teachers to change their minds. They can hold another vote today and reverse their stance. They'd be giving up nothing but a promise.

They should ask themselves would they rather have what's owed to them, or would they rather stand by and watch their fellow employees get the boot?

Local editorials represent the opinion of The Post-Star editorial board, which consists of Publisher Rick Emanuel, Editor Ken Tingley, Editorial Page Editor Mark Mahoney and citizen member Roger Guglielmo.



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