Cairo Association of Teachers - Newsletter

CAT Tracks for March 20, 2001

Hopefully, this letter will appear in this week's Cairo Citizen...a response to the District's latest prenegotiations PR blitz!

Cairo Citizen
Letter to the Editor
713 Washington Avenue
Cairo, IL 62914

Dear Editor:

Cairo School Superintendent Robert Isom has recently given a series of interviews to the local media. Dr. Isom says that he worries about the District being placed on the "Financial Watch List" and blames pay raises given to employees--especially teachers. At its last meeting, the Board voted its intent to lay off employees.

The Cairo Association of Teachers is also concerned about the District's financial health. Rather than being the alleged problem, we have repeatedly offered solutions. The CAT has called upon the Board to use ATTRITION--voluntary retirements and resignations--to reduce payroll cost. Unfortunately, the Board continues to fill vacated positions and create new positions!

Some recent facts:

  • In December, the Cairo Board of Education--upon the recommendation of the Superintendent--voted $1500 pay raises to all administrators--including the Superintendent.
  • At its February meeting--after announcing the District's placement on the Financial Watch List--the Cairo Board of Education chose to hire new personnel.
  • At this same meeting, the Superintendent recommended the creation of a new administrative position because of retiring personnel. The Superintendent also recommended advertising for a noncertified position that is also being vacated due to retirement.

Why does the District plead a "financial crisis" to the media while taking such contradictory actions?

The CAT asked the Board to fill these soon-to-be-vacant positions with existing personnel, which would save the District over $100,000--without reducing services to students. We also reminded the Superintendent and Board that there are at least two other positions within the CAT bargaining unit which will be vacated at the end of the school year by resignation or retirement. These positions would save the District at least $75,000 more.

The CAT would like to make recommendations on other financial savings. Unfortunately, this is NOT possible because we have been refused specific "line item" expenditures by a series of superintendents. Last year, the District notified the CAT that it anticipated the need to fire 18 teachers. When, during subsequent negotiations, the CAT inquired as to where the District’s million-dollar surplus had gone, the District was unable (or chose not) to explain. Instead, the District chose to fire only one teacher instead of 18. However, the question goes unanswered…

What happened to the District's money? The raises given to teachers were funded by "new monies" to the District. The raises do NOT account for the disappearance of the million-dollar surplus and the majority of the "new monies" that were retained by the District. As the District contemplates personnel decisions for next year, it owes all employees, especially any fired employee--and the taxpayers--an explanation!


Ron Newell, President
Cairo Association of Teachers


PS: The next meeting of the Cairo Board of Education is tomorrow night (Wednesday, March 21st) at 6:15 p.m. What will they do next? We will keep you informed...but better yet...come see for yourself!