Newburgh teachers rally for contract; state official alleges district overcharged taxpayers
Newburgh schoolteachers are working without a contract and rallied Tuesday ahead of a heated board meeting where a state assemblyman showed up and accused the district of double-dipping.
Hundreds of teachers were seen chanting and holding signs during a march Tuesday evening from Washington Street to the district offices on Grand Street before packing into a board meeting.
More than 1,200 district teachers are working without a contract or a paycheck.
“The 2023-24 school year is only eight days old and already, it’s been called the worst opening in memory,” said Newburgh Teacher Association President Stacy Moran.
Moran said teachers never got paid on Friday and were set up to fail on the first day of school – with limited it help, last-minute schedules and google classrooms, and not even any printer paper.
State Assemblyman Chris Eachus, a former district educator, joined teachers at the meeting in solidarity and alleged the district overcharged taxpayers for student services later paid for in a higher than expected, multi-million dollar state aid package.
“You taxed this district $27-million dollars and you got the $27-million from the state,” said Eachus. Where is that money?”
A look at the 2023-24 school budget doesn’t show any line items, payments or aid differences for that amount, and the district denies they overbilled taxpayers.
Eachus tells News 12 the district passed along the bill for a variety of student expenses, called “foundation aid,” to taxpayers when preparing their budget before the state budget passed in April, which then allotted more funds for Newburgh than expected.
A representative for the Newburgh school district denies that and showed us documents that the district received roughly $700,000 less foundation aid from the state than expected.
“NECSD did not raise taxes for the 2023-24 school year and has not raised the tax levy for the last 9 consecutive years,” said District Communications Specialist Cassie Sklarz. “When New York state does not adopt an on-time budget of April 1st, school districts may have to use estimated state aid based on information from the state aid runs available for the Board to adopt a budget in time to meet New York State Education Department budget filing timelines and propose a budget for voter approval. The district did include an estimated state aid increase of approximately $27 million in the budget presented to the voters for approval on May 16, 2023.”
Regarding the teachers’ contract, Sklarz said the district can’t comment on negotiations with the union.
“I can share, however, that the district will be joined by the director of mediation/conciliation for public employment and relations in the middle of September and are hopeful there will be an agreement soon,” said Sklarz.