Sunday, April 12, 2009

Commentary on Dr. Gallon's Pledge

Random image: Hyacinth and daffodils.

Schools Superintendent Steve Gallon III says he will forego terms of his contract and not take a raise until the Plainfield Education Association contract is settled, and then his raise will be keyed to the union's settlement. He did not proclaim this from the rooftops, it is set forth in a resolution that is part of a 58-page agenda for Tuesday's school board meeting. Yet some find fault with his decision.

A reasonable person might think Gallon's proposal is in keeping with the times, that all levels of compensated individuals in a private company or public system must make sacrifices. The least he will get according to his contract is one percent and if by any remote chance the union gets more than a 4 percent increase, Gallon will still only get a maximum 4 percent raise.

Meanwhile, according to his April message to the community, Gallon is meeting with PEA leadership to work toward a timely settlement.

Just speaking anecdotally, this writer can remember the recent go-round involving each side taking out full-page ads in the Courier News to argue in public. And years ago, there was a strike that shut schools down for several days.

There was one smooth contract resolution when Larry Leverett was schools superintendent and employed a non-confrontational means of reaching a settlement. When I asked someone why it was not used again, the answer was that training people to use that method was too costly.

On the spectrum from bitter confrontation to collegial negotiations, Gallon's pledge seems to be a positive thing. It appears to convey a response to the need for adjustments to changing times.

As I was thinking about this issue, it occurred to me how soon we forget the turmoil of the 2007-08 school year. That was an internal situation, but now external forces are demanding changes based on a global status of economic uncertainty.

Gallon's pledge sets a tone that is in keeping with current conditions and deserves to be respected.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bernice, I agree with you that Mr. Gallon's willingness to link his raise to that of his teachers. This is rare these days especially when you have Fortune 500 companies going down but their leaders not willing to give up costly bonuses. Kudos to Mr. Gallon for showing leadership. Plainfield as a whole needs more of this.

7:09 PM  

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