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Decision No. 12,730

Appeal of RONALD BEHE, DANIEL NOLAN and STEVEN SHUCHAT from action of the Board of Education of the Mohawk Central School District relating to salary.

Decision No. 12,730

(June 26, 1992)

Beverly R. Hackett, Esq., attorney for petitioners

Scolaro, Shulman, Cohen, Lawler & Burstein, P.C., attorneys for respondent, Henry F. Sobota, Esq., of counsel

SOBOL, Commissioner.--Petitioners appeal from a determination of the Board of Education of the Mohawk Central School District to rescind salary increases previously authorized for petitioners. The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioners are building level administrators in the Mohawk Central School District, who are not represented for collective bargaining purposes. On May 13, 1991 respondent adopted a resolution authorizing a 9.16 percent pay increase for petitioners for the 1991-92 school year. Respondent sent each petitioner a salary notice informing them of their rate of pay for the coming year. The notice asked petitioners to acknowledge and agree to the salary listed on the notice, which each petitioner did.

On May 29, 1991 the district budget was presented to the voters. Because of several factors, including administrators' pay raises, the proposed budget would have increased real property taxes by 26.5 percent. The proposed budget was rejected by the voters by a margin of 58 percent to 42 percent. At a meeting on June 3, 1991 respondent sought to determine the reasons for the budget rejection. Based on input from a number of residents attending that meeting, respondent concluded that one of the primary reasons for the budget defeat was voter anger regarding the proposed 9.16 percent salary increases for petitioners. At that same meeting, respondent decided to present a revised budget to the voters. To facilitate its approval by the voters, respondent eliminated several items from the budget, including the 9.16 percent raises for petitioners. The revised budget was approved by the voters on June 19, 1991.

Petitioners maintain that the salary notices received and signed by them constituted written contracts binding upon the parties. Because of those alleged contracts, petitioners contend that respondent violated their rights when it unilaterally rescinded the proposed salary increase.

Petitioners have failed to establish that they had a binding contract of employment with respondent for the 1991-92 school year. The salary notices merely notified petitioners what their respective salaries would be on an annual basis, and their signature thereon was no more than an acknowledgement of receipt of the notice and their intention to work in the district. A salary notice does not constitute a contract of employment since "the fact that compensation is measured by a specific period of time does not render the employment" an employment contract (Matter of Tyson v. Hess, 109 AD2d 1068, 487 NYS2d 206, aff'd 66 NY2d 843, 498 NYS2d 778--see also, LaShure v. Bd. of Ed., 167 AD2d 852, 562 NYS2d 894; Dalton v. Union Bank of Switzerland, 134 AD2d 174, 520 NYS2d 764; Matter of MacPherson, 25 Ed Dept Rep 124; Matter of Schultz, 11 id. 224). Accordingly, petitioners have failed to establish that respondent acted improperly by rescinding the salary increases.

Petitioners also contend that the revised budget approved by the voters on June 19, 1991 included funds for their salary increases. Petitioners argue that the alleged inclusion of the funds in the revised budget, coupled with petitioners' signature on the salary notices, somehow established their right to the increases. Respondent disputes that the revised budget contained such funds. In any event, the simple act of placing a figure in a proposed budget does not in and of itself legally bind a board of education to spend that amount (Matter of Savino, 18 Ed Dept Rep 485). Petitioners' contention is, therefore, rejected.

I have reviewed petitioners' other contentions and find them to be without merit.