MAYVILLE - An amended contract between Chautauqua Lake Central School and its teachers will include no pay increases for the coming school year.
The contract does include previously agreed upon step increases and teachers will make the same contribution to their health care plan.
Ben Spitzer, district superintendent, said in a statement all district employees have now agreed to work at current pay scales, which he called a "unified approach." This, he said, "speaks well" of all employees in the district.
"We deeply appreciate all employees in the district working closely with the Board of Education to assist in providing relief to the current economic pressures," Spitzer said.
While the district's teachers are helping the district keep costs down, board members are criticizing New York state for its inability to help school districts cut costs. Dave Thomas, district business officer, said he doesn't see anything changing a trend of gradual enrollment decline for Chautauqua Lake, prompting a response from Jay Baker, the board's vice president.
"What is your level of dealing with the idiots at the state level?" Baker asked.
Thomas made his comments in the midst of a general discussion about the Chautauqua Lake school district in particular and smaller upstate school districts in general. Districts are forced to institute new programs without receiving state funding to pay for them.
Baker said local control of schools in New York is extremely limited.
"This state's a dictatorship," he said. "It's not a democracy."
Board members renewed their criticism of the state Assembly for failing to vote on legislation which would allow regional schools so smaller districts could increase offerings to their students. Earlier board meetings have showed some small schools have classes with so few students combining them would still keep the class size at 18 to 20 students, but require one rather than two instructors. This can save money or allow schools to offer a wider variety of courses, according to Chautauqua Lake board members.
Declining enrollment is another problem at many Chautauqua County districts. Jill Scott, board president, said the district's monthly enrollment summary counted 799 students at the end of the past school year, the first time it has dropped below 800 students.