With the recent defeat of the Middletown school budget on April 20, the task of cutting the budget now goes to the Middletown Township Committee. In an effort to significantly cut the budget, I immediately reached out to the Middletown Township Education Association (MTEA) and asked them to accept a one year wage freeze. This would allow us to save the taxpayers $3 million from the defeated budget without laying off a single teacher or cutting a single program. I asked for a reply by the close of business on April 30. Sadly, the MTEA did not even afford me the courtesy of a response. I find this extremely distressing and damaging to the taxpayers of Middletown and most importantly, the children whose education is being threatened.
At a time when many taxpayers live in fear of losing their jobs and with salary cuts and freezes the norm in the private sector, it is unconscionable that the MTEA refuses to take a one year salary freeze in order to save their fellow teachers’ jobs and our children’s programs. I have spoken to many parents who have made it abundantly clear: they favor a wage freeze over further cuts to teaching positions and programs. Even many teachers have told me that they would agree to a wage freeze if only the MTEA would allow them to vote on it. As the parent of a recent Middletown High School South graduate and a seventh-grader in Thompson Middle School, I find it outrageous that our children’s education would be sacrificed in favor of a wage hike that is virtually unheard of in the private sector during our current economic crisis. That is why in the spirit of fairness and consideration for the Middletown taxpayer I would ask the MTEA once again, for kids sake, agree to a wage freeze and save teachers’ jobs and school programs.
Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger