Controversial Wisconsin Educator Set To Take Over As Superintendent In Katonah-Lewisboro

Hundreds Of Protesters Say Dr. Paul Kreutzer Is Anti-Union

CROSS RIVER, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — They’re normally non confrontational affairs — the hiring of a school superintendent.

But that wasn’t the case on Tuesday night in Katonah, where the school board got an earful from residents for what the new school boss said about unions, CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey reports.

A packed room of parents and teachers blasted Katonah’s school board for hiring Dr. Paul Kreutzer, an educator from Wisconsin whose anti-union comments have irked teachers.

“I think that he’s been brought here to be a union buster,” teacher Sandy Grebinar said.

Teachers pointed to a news conference in Wisconsin, where Kreutzer, then superintendent in a Milwaukee suburb, endorsed the state’s governor, Scott Walker, who said unions should be stripped of collective bargaining power.

“Wisconsin has come to New York,” one teacher said.

WCBS 880’s Catherine Cioffi With Reaction From The Teachers Union

And that brought together a few hundred teachers from all over Westchester County on Tuesday to protest.

“This is what democracy looks like,” Yorktown teacher Pauline Quinones said. “It’s just a travesty. It’s unfair to labor. It really is a strike against unions all around.”

Kreutzer insisted he’s getting a bad rap.

Katonah-Lewisboro Schools protest

Hundreds of protesters made their voices heard at John Jay-Cross River High School on April 26, 2011, as they voiced their displeasure with the hiring of new district superintendent Dr. Paul Kreutzer. (Photo: CBS 2)

“I’m not here to union bust, thank-you,” Kreutzer said, adding when asked for his position on unions, “I’m good.”

At the meet and greet, Kreutzer told the crowd he was apolitical, and was only carrying out the position of his Wisconsin school board when he stood next to the governor. But some wanted to know his personal opinion on union busting.

One protester asked, “In the state of Wisconsin or anywhere else, would you have voted yes?” To which Dr. Kreutzer replied, “If board directed me to sign that I would.”

“A lot of people thought you’d stand on your own two feet and answer the question,” another protester said.

“He’s not making policy; we’re making policy,” Katonah-Lewisboro School Board President Michael Gordon responded.

“I don’t have nor will I have anti-union stance,” Dr. Kreutzer added.

The board gave Kreutzer a five-year contract that some said is well deserved.

“I trust their choice so, yes, I support him, absolutely,” parent Tara Owen said.

“I really believe that he, himself, is not opposed to collective bargaining. He is not opposed to teacher’s unions,” Judy Aydelotte said.

Kreutzer said these are challenging times in education, but some teachers wondered if he’s talking about them.

Kreutzer, who take over on July 1, will earn $245,000 per year.

You can find more information from the school district HERE.

Do you think Paul Kreutzer is the right man for the job? Sound off below

  • Mary

    Can you ask your Board if they could find a way to take Gov. Scott Walker off our hands too? I’d be OH, SO GRATEFUL! If not, we can wait until January to recall him and turn this state (WI) back around.

  • Mary

    Our local paper talking about how Kreutzer tried to back peddle his position when speaking to the poor NY-ers who get to take him off our hands. :)

  • Mary

    Here is an excerpt from our Milwaukee Journal Sentinal, quoting Kreutzer, who I guess claimed at your meeting that he was not anti-union?

    Three public school officials – all from the New Berlin School District – spoke at Wednesday’s news conference in favor of Walker’s recent success in curtailing most public employees’ collective bargaining as helping them with their budget.

    Even though the governor’s office estimated the district would be short $44,000 in covering revenue losses, Superintendent Paul Kreutzer said no employees will be laid off because of the flexibility it will get from other aspects of Walker’s changes.

    He contrasted that to last year, when the district contemplated laying off nearly 30 employees. Twenty-eight of those 29 full-time equivalent teaching and counseling positions ended up being called back.

    “We will begin working with our staff in the new year,” said Kreutzer, whose district has a long history of contentious relations with its teachers union. “Working with staff to create education from the ground up. There is no bureaucracy in our way.”

  • Anthony

    Teachers in NYS are REQUIRED to get a Master’s. This is another 2 years of education that we must pay for. The average teacher spends 30K more dollars to get this education and as a former Columbia graduate that 30K is much lower than many of the teachers who teacher your students in KLSD and other Westchester schools. Superintendents now more than ever expect teachers to have attended great schools and these schools come with a price. I understand that I am speaking to disgruntled people who very well will not look at this issue through rationale eyes, but just think… Many of the teachers you feel are being paid too much are probably hold degrees that are comparable, if not exceed degrees that many of you hold and are being paid substantially less.

    • Anthony

      sorry a couple of typos:

      teach for teacher
      holding for hold

      Sorry, quick typing led to a couple of mistakes.

      • Bradford

        But explain why your union won’t fire bad teachers. You’re not an idiot. You know some of your coworkers aren’t worth $30K year let alone $60K. Why don’t you force your union leaders to get you better coworkers and get my kids better teachers?
        Your union is a joke sir and you know it.

      • Anthony

        What is your definition of a “bad” teacher? A union is not going to fire a teacher because your child received a 3 instead of a 4 or because they did not comply to your demands… And BTW your BOARD is responsible for hiring teachers, not a union. You want someone to blame for your teachers look towards your board that has the right to deny any teacher tenure as well as deny any teacher a job that the superintendent bring forward to them. Once again, easy to blame unions and teachers, but if you actually understood how an educational system was run you would know that they true evil here is a board that spends more time being reactive and trying to right their wrongs rather than be proactive and be more active in the hiring of your districts new teachers.

      • Anthony

        Oh and BTW I do not work in KLSD and our board, superintendent and teachers all work well with one another. That is why our district performs at a high level, teachers are excited to work, and the kids ultimately benefit from a rigorous education. Teachers are paid more than those in KLSD, once again parents understand you get what you pay for and that is the sole reason they moved into the district. Ignorance may be bliss, but it will catch up soon enough…

  • Joanne

    @Chris – beautifully put. Thank you for the sanity.

  • dabooch

    When your working half a year for a hundred k you don’t anybody coming in ruining your gig. Also, there is the long term goal of retiring with a big fat pension and health benefits. Yeh, the public understands why teachers and their union heads are upset after all, aren’t teachers the gold standard and don’t tax payers pay for each troy ounce?

    • Anthony

      Half a year? Did you know the average business worker received 6 weeks of vacation a year, not including bank holidays? Teachers receive 10 weeks if you count the summer which is 8 weeks, spring break which is a week, christmas which is another week, and February break. Did you also know that the average teacher works 3 hours more than what they are contracted to work, grading papers, writing reports, and calling parents if need be. Lastly, 100K seems like a lot and yes in Westchester teachers are well compensated however, us teachers also can seldom live in the neighborhood we teach because we cannot afford it. The average teacher communtes 50 minutes a day.

      To go back to how we get paid look at NYC. Teachers in Westchester get 25% more than NYC teachers this is why young, highly educated, and ambitious teachers leave NYC and work in Westchester, to get more pay. Take that away and you can continue paying high taxes and instead have an increase of class sizes and less qualified teachers. A good example, you can buy a BMW and pay more, but know you are getting a qualified car, or buy a KIA and pay less, but be unsure of how long the car will last.

  • HooDatIS?
    • Bradford

      You’re right – you need your unions – the problem is MY KIDS NEED GOOD TEACHERS and your union protects bad teachers at all costs. The rules to fire my kid’s bad teachers are irresponsible/indefensible and you will continue to get more and more backlash from reasonable people like me who see your union as the primary reason American schools are a laughing stock.

      • Mary

        While you spout the rhetoric of the conservative right wing, you might consider all the good that the union does for your children. Thanks to your teacher’s union, class sizes are kept to a level conducive to achievement. The union protects the teachers’ prep time so they are able to offer the best lessons for your child. The union fights for environmental factors within the classroom to make it a place comfortable for your child. Look at what your union does for you, and stop believing that the union protects a “bad” teacher from being fired, because it doesn’t. At least not here in Wisconsin. A bad teacher can be fired just as easily as a private sector employee. The right-wing has simply exaggerated the seniority factor in our contracts, which is in place so that a district with a limited budget can’t just get rid of the highest paid teachers and replace them with the younger lower paid educators in order to meet their financial constraints. Remember, in education, a shining employee does not produce a profit for the district. Their first concern is to balance their limited budget.
        I have some homework for you as well. Look up the most successful country in education and tell me what you discover as reasons identified for their success. Also, check to see if they are unionized. Hint: #1 in education is Finland.
        ~ A Proud Wisconsin Educator

      • Anthony

        Very interesting… What I don’t understand about this comment is John Jay High School sends one of the highest percentages of students to ivy league schools. Many times parents are quick to blame teachers for their child’s academic struggles. Maybe you should be looking at your self as a parent and what you are doing (or not doing) to support your child and teacher. It’s easy to blame teahers, but it’s hard to take any of the blame yourself. Are all teachers good, no they aren’t. Just like any profession. However, tenure DOES NOT mean a guaranteed job, it means you cannot be fired for no reason. I know as being a former student of tenured teachers who were let go, one of which being my science teacher. I understand that you may be disgruntled but it does not give you the right to give misinformation.

  • Chris

    I fear that the only way this school district can envision a way to make up for the budgetary irresponsibility that got them into their current fiscal crisis, is to suck it out of the teachers’ remunerations. (Strikingly, I have yet to hear any administrators suggest audibly that, in order to balance budgets, any administrators should take any hits on their very fat remuneration packages. E.g. at $245,000 per year, Dr. Kreutzer will make more than I do as a surgeon.)

    A simple-minded way to decrease expenditures would be to somehow get rid of the teachers who have been around long enough to command the higher remunerations, and replace them with (cheap to hire) teachers fresh out of training, who are “up on the latest teaching techniques.” Perhaps such moves might be more easily accomplished if we successfully bust the teachers union and eliminate collective bargaining.

    Well, in the course of completing both of my doctoral degrees, I have probably experienced more teachers in my life than most other people you may meet.

    And I can tell you that when I reminisce about the most outstanding teachers with whom I’ve been a student, about teachers from my public Jr. High School in New York State through both doctorates in New York State, about the teachers who had the most profound effects on my well being… well, not a single one of these great teachers was a new teacher. All my great teachers were teachers with great seasoning, who had been at teaching for many years, all of whom must have cost their school a pretty penny to maintain, to maintain for the benefit of future generations.

    Just one example: my 10th grade Geometry teacher, old Mr. Gruzynski, walked into class the first day, with only a piece of chalk in his hand, rolled up his sleeves (I still clearly remember that moment) and subsequently had EVERY student in the class LOVING Geometry, and ace-ing all tests, including the Regents. He did all this using only a piece of chalk, and his mind… no notes… nothing more.

    This old man was worth more than whatever his Board of Ed paid him.

    Taxpayers, you will surely get what you pay for if the more expensive, experienced teachers are replaced with cheap teachers fresh out of school.

    And don’t be seduced into thinking that buying some sort of hardware in leu of paying for a human to educate a child will enhance the quality of a child’s being.

    (P.S. I am not a teaching professional.)

    • Bradford

      Aren’t the people in the union smart enough to devise a plan to fire bad teachers? Every corporation in America has figured it out. Why is it so hard? No one is asking to fire good teachers to save a few bucks, we ARE SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF OUR LUNGS to fire bad teachers.
      The fact that bad teachers remain is proof enough that the union is failing my kids. My hope is that someone comes and busts it up.

  • Let the games begin

    The people have spoken. We are too mature to show up at a school board meeting waving protest signs like a bunch of idiots. We vote instead. Wait are these people teaching our children? UH-OH!

    • Support Education

      Yes, the people have spoken. Maturity is knowing that under the First Amendment in the United States Bill of Rights we, as Americans, have the freedom of speech AND press not just the ability to vote. Teachers, staff, parents and students exercised that right tonight. If you need more information, here it is…
      Educated and responsible discourse is the cornerstone of our country.

  • Bradford

    Let’s hope and pray he’s really there to bust up this asinine union. Our kids deserve it!!!

    • Support Education

      The students deserve highly-qualified teachers who know exactly how to support their learning.

  • anthony

    I am a former student and current teacher in a Westchester school and I truly believe what the board in the KLSD is doing is disturbing. Between the petitions and parent anger that has been displayed this board is not acting in the best interest of the district, but in the best interest of themselves. The anger that was directed towards Kreutzer is misguided, the true shady characters are the board and how they handled this situation. Not only did they not support the community they are supposed to represent, but even during this meeting they lined up Kreutzer in front of a firing range. The positive out of this is this board is disliked by many and new community members need to run for their positions and assemble a new board. Once this happens this school distrct can go back to the way it once was.

    • Bradford

      Please don’t send it back “to the way it once was” – our schools aren’t good enough. I tired of training my kids at home – if my kids had better teachers then I could play catch with them instead of playing math games.
      And Anthony you really aren’t trying to defend the number of fired teachers in NYS as reasonable are you?

      • Anthony

        Look at the best school districts… Scarsdale, Rye, Harrison… these districts are good not only because of their teachers, but because they have supportive parents, a strong school board, and a superintendent who is not a follower, but a leader. You look at playing math games as being a negative… Ask ANY parent of these communities and they are doing the same things, not because the teachers are bad, but because they are an active participant in their child’s education. Best school district = Singapore. Score highest in World Education test. Did you know their teachers are the HIGHEST paid people in the country? Did you also know that their parents work WITH the teachers and devise curriculum in a collaborative manner. As I said you can blame teachers for the educational woes of America and that is your choice and I respect your right to make that choice, but take a look in the mirror and I guarantee your disdain to help your child with homework or prepare him/her for a test is not only noticed by your child, but affects their desire to complete their work.

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