An open letter to the students, taxpayers and teachers of #MHT

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There’s a great deal of passion amongst all parties when it comes to contract negotiations no matter what the circumstances.  I understand it, I share it and I would never dismiss any opinion – I would hope for the same consideration.

Any Mayor is tasked with putting together a budget that meets the criteria of the tax cap.  It is spelled out very clearly in the Charter and it is the job the voters elected me to do.  Given all the factors to be considered between the needs of the city and the district putting together a budget is challenging, but never impossible.

It is the responsibility of the Mayor to present a fiscally responsible budget year after year.  It is the responsibility of the Mayor to be a good steward of the taxpayers dollars.  It is the responsibility of the Mayor to not obligate taxpayers, and other boards, to a future of recovering from reckless spending.  This is the commitment I have made to the taxpayers of Manchester, one that I do not take lightly and one that I will never ignore – to do so would be irresponsible.

For these very reasons the tentative agreement between the district and the Manchester Education Association was not a contract I could support.  The financial implications of that agreement would have made our number one priority, which is reducing class sizes, impossible.  In fact the opposite would have occurred – we would have been unable to fill any vacancies that we realized due to retirements, add any new teachers to our classrooms and in each of the next two years we would be looking at class sizes far beyond the state minimum standards across all levels of education.

To look at any multi-year agreement that affects our students and the taxpayers in a vacuum is ridiculous.  You must consider the implications and possible outcomes for the lifetime of the contract.  In this case in FY2017 and in FY2018 there was a significant shortfall because the increases in salaries far outweighed the savings in benefits – the city was upside down.  In this case the Mayor is left with two possible solutions: reduce the workforce or assume an override of the tax cap.  Either choice is irresponsible and unacceptable.

What is the responsible choice?  Veto the current contract, get back to the table and begin to negotiate a contract that is fair to the teachers, fair to the students and fair to the taxpayers. That is exactly what I am willing to do and I hope that the other parties will agree.

As for the political posturing that has taken place over the course of the past week I would leave you with this.  From members of the Board of School Committee, to Aldermen, to teachers, to my friends and to the public when they stop, call, e-mail or message me to discuss the veto they always begin with the statement, “I can’t believe that you did that, it’s an election year.”  That is true, it is an election year and when it comes to my principles and making the right choice for our students and the taxpayers where I’m at in the election cycle will never matter.  What is more bothersome is that others have chosen to use scare tactics and capitalize on a responsible decision simply because they didn’t expect it.

Warm Regards

Mayor Ted Gatsas


 

Gatsas
Mayor Ted Gatsas also serves as Chairman of the Board of School Committee. He is running for reelection in the September primary election.

About Carol Robidoux 5217 Articles
Journalist and editor of ManchesterInkLink.com, a hyperlocal news and information site for Manchester, NH.
  • Kevin Phelan

    Since when does Teddy care about class size? You cannot trust one word from this guy.

    Check out this video that I put together. It illustrates who Teddy really is.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2TZGpALq64

  • nhteach

    (NOT a Manchester teacher) Sorry, Teddy. You should have tried those arguments on for size several years ago when you first sat down at the table to negotiate a new contract. Springing them at the eleventh hour? Not kosher! Three YEARS without a working contract is ridiculous and shows just how uninterested you are in the education of the city’s kids. Funny how you can find money for golf greens and sports venues and other pet projects, but you leave students, teachers, and parents hanging in the wind for years. The timing of this as an election year is noted. The voters in Manchester are NOT stupid. They get it – the value of their property is directly tied to the success of its schools. When the voters elect city leaders who decide to get serious and support the schools with enough resources, recognition that class size matters, and paying its teachers for all the work they do – and God bless them, those people WORK – Manchester will find its way out of the basement of the good schools list. Any business manager knows you can’t keep good people on the payroll if you don’t take care of them. Your best are going to go elsewhere, and THAT is going to be on your watch.

  • roundraven

    Is this a letter to try and resurrect some votes? This is a person who has a history of fudging numbers. He did it in Concord and his own party helped to push him out. Now, he is doing it in Manchester. Yesterday I read comments from Paul Porter that talked about how the Mayor used the Charter to his own benefit and ignores it when nobody is paying attention. Manchester residents deserve better than this. We are a city with enormous potential. Once, cities like Concord and Nashua could look at the progress in Manchester with envy. After suffering the leadership of former Mayor Guinta (another man who fudged the numbers and who is still, questionably in office) and Gatsas our school district has suffered drastically. Young families have moved out of Manchester and our city has become stagnant, crime ridden, and full of slum lords who are friends of the Mayor. Haven’t we had enough? Property owners and long time city residents deserve so much better than this. We need to take the opportunity being given to us in September and vote overwhelmingly for people who care about Manchester and the progress of getting young families back, bringing business to the city, filling the storefronts again and doing it on a foundation of good public education, a solid police department to keep our streets safe and a strong fire department to maintain city residents and business. We need to maintain our roads, our sidewalks and our parks to make the city safe and beautiful again. It can happen and I believe with new leadership that it will. I know who I am supporting in September for the Mayoral election, my ward offices and the candidates at Large. Last night I attended the opening of candidate for Mayor, present alderman and former school board member, Joyce Craig. Hundreds of people were there. Let’s keep up the momentum and make the change.

  • ChildrenAreOurFuture

    That’s just fine Mayor, but in your role as Chairman of the BOSC, it is your responsibility to act in the best interest of the school board. When all members of the board approved the contract, and you did not, you were not acting as school board chairman, you were acting on your own agenda. #conflictofinterest #nomayoraschairman we need a charter change to remove the mayor as chairman of the BOSC!

    • roundraven

      Paul Porter made great comments on how the Mayor uses the present charter to his own benefit. The calling out of family members has never happened before. Of course – how many community players are related to public officials historically. It isn’t a conflict of interest when you have a community that’s been built for a reason. Sadly, so many have moved away from Manchester.