Tighten up

| 22 Feb 2012 | 07:58

    Council urges schools to keep a lid on salaries during contract negotiations By Tom Hoffman SUSSEX - With state aid cuts looming and area residents feeling the economic pinch, the Sussex Borough Council has suggested that two local school boards hold the line on teacher contract negotiations for High Point Regional High School and the Sussex Middle School. Sussex Borough Councilman Frank Dykstra brought the idea to fellow members of the council at its Feb. 3 meeting. “If we get more state aid cuts, we could be looking at horrendous tax hikes,” said Dykstra, who is the council’s liaison to the school boards for both the High Point Regional School District and the Sussex-Wantage Regional School District. The two school boards “should not go forth recklessly in these discussions,” added Dykstra. In crafting a recommendation letter to the school boards, Sussex Borough Council President Bruce La Bar suggested that the group recommend a specific range for teacher salary increases. At the suggestion of Sussex Mayor Christian Parrott, the council unanimously approved a recommendation of holding annual teacher salary increases in the range of 0 to 2.6 percent for at least the first year of the contract. The latter number reflects the annual cost-of-living increase that’s incorporated into Social Security benefits. In a Feb. 6 E-mail sent to The Advertiser News, S-W Regional Board of Education President Thomas Card said he hadn’t yet received the letter sent by the borough council and wanted to review it prior to making any comments. However, Card did say in his E-mail that it’s his understanding “they are close to a settlement” with the teachers’ union on a new agreement. Contracts for teachers at local school districts typically cover a three year period. Efforts by The Advertiser News to contact High Point Regional Superintendent John W. Hannum and Debbie Anderson, president of the teachers’ union there, were unsuccessful.