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District Leadership Team Takes a Salary Freeze for Upcoming School Year; Dr. Hamilton Now Calls on All-District Employees to Eliminate Increases

Superintendent Dr. Kenneth R. Hamilton is asking for the support and sacrifice of all district employees as the district works toward balancing a reduction in next year’s spending plan with an anticipated dramatic drop in state revenue.

The Superintendent and his cabinet, which includes the district’s leadership team of administrators and support employees, who typically work at the Education Center, have already voluntarily agreed to freeze their salary for the upcoming school year to help the district arrive at an annual spending plan that is acceptable for passage on Tuesday, June 9.

Dr. Hamilton is hoping other employees in the district will consider similar measures.

“This request for salary freezes is not something that I take lightly. But, we are all in this together and our focus needs to be on the education of our children at this unprecedented time,” Dr. Hamilton said. “Our community is hurting. We cannot ask for a spending increase when many of our residents are not working and may not have jobs to return to.”

Due to a reduction in state tax collections because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic across New York State, there is a new provision in the state budget allowing for automatic reductions in state spending, including school foundation aid, during the school year. Those reductions will be controlled by the governor. This change in practice from past state budgets, along with the current economic downturn caused by the pandemic and its resulting closures of non-essential businesses, has wreaked havoc on school district budgets across the state and nation.

Currently, the Mount Vernon City School District faces unprecedented reductions that will decimate the district’s education program and will dismantle the extraordinary achievements accomplished in the last six years. He is seeking a call to action from the community to contact state and local officials advocating for the maintenance of aid at a minimum of the levels currently in place and compel the federal government to provide appropriate funding for state and local government budgets that have been tremendously impacted by the pandemic. Information on how to advocate can be found at www.mtvernoncsd.org/covidsupport.

In addition, the district will be required to implement new, costly safety measures to protect its staff and students from a return of the pandemic. Implementing unanticipated plans that require social distancing, sanitation, and personal protective equipment for everyone will be costly.

“We have made many dramatic improvements to our buildings and programming over the past five years and our students have responded in so many positive ways,” Dr. Hamilton said. “Now, because of this wide and deep economic recession caused by the pandemic, we are asking for all of our employees to help them. We need to focus our spending on fulfilling the needs of our students and maintain what we have built for the sake of all our students.”