Aug 11, 2015 6:54 PM
MANCHESTER - The controversy has heated up since the Mayor of Manchester shot down a contract that would have given many public school teachers a hike in salary over the course of the next three years. And it’s spilling over into the political arena.
Mayor Ted Gatsas defended his veto and says he’s not going to be pressured by the upcoming mayoral election or protestors on the steps of City Hall, carrying signs demanding fair pay.
Gatsas says he wants to see a contract that’s fair for teachers and the taxpayers of Manchester. He says an 18.7% increase in salary over the course of three years for about 50% of the teachers isn’t affordable. He says the protesters—all dressed in red—are asking for something that literally puts the city in the red.
“Because in two years, I don’t want to be at the table laying off teachers or not filling vacant positions, so class sizes get larger,” says Gatsas. “I think that’s important. We can’t spend away our future.”
Gatsas is citing financial reports showing deficits of $785,862 in fiscal year 2017 and $703,862 in fiscal year 2018.
While the teachers may be upset, the taxpayers, the voters Manchester, don’t want tax hikes. Gatsas also says a lot of the teachers who’d benefit—about 50%—don’t even live in Manchester and wouldn’t feel the impact of higher taxes or reduced city services.
I also asked the Mayor about the school board’s 10-2 vote of “no confidence” last night. His response: “There’s only one group of people that have that opportunity and it’s the voters of this great city.”
His two democratic opponents, hoping to gain momentum from this debate, are voicing their disappointment with Gatsas’ decision on social media.
Alderman Patrick Arnold is demanding new leadership. Alderman Joyce Craig is attacking what she calls Gatsas’ confrontational leadership.
In the end, Gatsas is asking for all parties to come back to the table and negotiate.
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