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Union concessions means no layoffs for Westmoreland School District

By PAT BAILEY

WESTMORELAND, N.Y. (WKTV) - Four separate unions who represent workers in the Westmoreland School District have all agreed to concessions in order to avoid layoffs in the 2011-2012 school year.

President of the Westmoreland School Board Mitch Lemaire said Monday that as many as 16 teachers and four other staff members were facing layoffs in 2011. The layoffs were a result of state aid cuts in the 2011 state budget, Lemaire said.

The district was cut by 13% which equated to a $1.1 million shortfall.

"If we had gotten the money the state had promised us over the last few years, we would have never been in this situation we are in," Lemaire said. "They promised money and because of the crisis, we didn't get that money."

According to Lemaire, each union agreed to wage freezes in 2011, and also agreed to change what they pay for prescriptions. The savings equals about $500,000, Lemaire said.

To make up the rest of the shortfall, the district is using some of their reserve funds.

In order to make up the state aid cut, the district would have had to raise taxes more than 15%, said District Superintendent Rocco Migliori.

"The primary focus was the kids," said Lemaire. "We wanted to make sure the kids had the valuable programs that we offer them and we are not going to cut any of those programs. We're not laying off a single person."

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