Arlington administrators offer concessions

FREEDOM PLAINS – To help the Arlington school district weather a potential fiscal crisis, an administrators union chief is willing to discuss possible salary and benefit concessions.

But the head of the 775-member teachers union said Wednesday that bargaining unit is not ready to follow suit, preferring to wait until state aid figures are finalized.

“It’s premature to talk about that,” Bob Maier, president of the Arlington Teachers’ Association, said of possible union givebacks. He called renegotiating the union’s contract, which runs through June 2010, “a very serious step.”

Dwight Bonk, president of the Arlington Administrators Association, announced at Tuesday night’s school board meeting its 35 members are willing to renegotiate their contract.

“If needed to preserve Arlington school district programs and staff, we are willing to reopen our 2009-2011 contract to explore any possibly feasible ways to assist the district during this challenging financial period,” said Bonk, house principal for the Class of 2012 at the high school.

Superintendent Frank Pepe said Wednesday it is too soon to tell what financial impact the union’s offer might have on next year’s budget. But he estimated the district would save about $3.75 million if all the district’s approximately 1,500 employees agree to salary freezes in 2009-10.

“That could very well mean saving nearly 100 staff positions and significant programs for students,” Pepe said.

If the district’s teachers alone were to decline raises next year, Pepe estimated the school system would save about $3.3 million.

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