There’s been so much hand-wringing lately about who is speaking to us here at Briefing Book that it’s newsworthy when someone decides not to speak to us. A little background first.
Last week, as you recall, the “Executive Board” of the teachers union posted a reply to our inaugural column. The details don’t really matter — the teachers union is happy to talk about anything other than the teachers union’s unsustainable salaries and benefits. But the lack of a byline piqued our curiosity. For a group that values “transparency,” the teachers union seemed awfully reticent about revealing the members comprising this shadow group. Who is this mysterious “Executive Board” anyway? So we decided to ask two of its members, teachers Geoff Curtis and Paul Saloom.
Mr. Curtis didn’t reply to our inquiry. But Mr. Saloom sent a note telling us — and we’re quoting here — “I cannot in good conscience become one of your sources.” Well.
First of all, we didn’t think we were asking for state secrets. Since Messrs. Curtis and Saloom had made a big deal of saying that the “Executive Board” had lost faith in the district’s leadership, we simply wanted some idea of who else had experienced such a dispiriting loss of confidence. Or to put it another way: “I find your lack of faith disturbing.” We got the rest of the names without too much trouble.
Second, we were amused by Mr. Saloom’s rejection of our offer to join the long line of luminaries serving up scoop to Briefing Book. On the one hand, it’d be pretty nifty to have yet another faculty member dishing to us about the union’s internal goings-on. On the other hand, the accounting department says we’ve already maxed out The Ledger’s “reliable source” budget for this fiscal quarter, so Mr. Saloom’s refusal saves us the nuisance of issuing a voucher instead of another paycheck. And speaking of paychecks …
We’ve discovered a nifty little website that sheds some light on what we’re paying here in good ol’ KLSD. FindTheData is a free website that contains all the pay information for New York state employees. And quite the site it is! Just input the district’s name into the search engine and up pops several hundred publicly available, taxpayer-funded, KLSD salaries.
For example, according to FindTheData, Mr. Saloom pulls in a cool $141,930 a year for his job preparing C students to run the world. Mr. Curtis, who teaches health to the kiddies when he’s not organizing ambushes against school superintendents, pulls in a very healthy $154,738. And that’s not counting those pension and lifetime health care benefits!
We don’t mean to pick on either of these tenured gents, who seem pleasant enough when they’re not agonizing about moral dilemmas or ambushing the school board. We had hoped they would be helpful chaps and update FindTheData’s 2010 salary info for us, but as neither one seems thrilled at the idea of corresponding with us — well, guys, the offer remains open!
For some perspective, the site notes that the above salaries, like the salaries of most KLSD employees, are way, way, way higher than the average salary for New York state employees — and even higher when compared to the average salary for New York state teachers. And higher even than salaries for college faculty — The Wall Street Journal reported that the salary of a full professor with a doctorate at a public university averages $120,000 a year.
As noted before here at Briefing Book, a lot of taxpayers around these parts make a whole lot less than the average KLSD teacher. And those taxpayers are paying for a KLSD education not based on the taxpayer’s earnings or degrees, but on the value of the taxpayer’s real estate.
So as you send your property tax check to the Town House this month, ask yourself how much longer you can afford to pay college faculty prices for high school teachers.