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Original post made
by AD, Sycamore Place,
on Feb 25, 2011
"Look at these from NJ governor."
What? His love folds? Oink-oink.
OK, how many people would be OK with going to a board meeting and saying we'd like step and column to be frozen for the duration of a parcel tax. Would teachers join us to save jobs? I will go for it if we get a group together.
Seriously - forget your political affiliations and focus on our neighborhoods, schools and children.
Does it make sense to increases salaries for teachers (some of whom are in 80k-100k ranges)? Pay for performance and quality -- not based on tenure!
Everyone is taking a cut these days -- freeze the step-and-column and you can keep teachers jobs AND get a good teacher-student ratio (which keeps the schools great, keeps our home prices stable or higher, increases property tax in the longer term and so on).
We will face this problem every year!!
Also remember - some of us can afford to send our kids to private school and will do that if this continues. That has a negative impact on the public schools and its a downward spiral.
The step increases that are pissing everybody off are tough to specifically quantify in that they don't happen every year and are not the same amount across the columns - but I think a good ballpark for these discussion is that if a "step" is happening (and it does not happen every year) it seems to be about $2,000 per year bump.
As I recall, teachers agreed to the wacky furlough day plan that is in effect this year which contributed $4MM to the budget deficit (they did not have to agree to anything). I think the HR director said at the budget meeting this amounted to approx. $2,000 to $4,000 cut in annual pay per teacher depending on where they were on the salary schedule - so they felt that one.
It seems to me that the community is not going to get the furlough cuts AND a Step freeze out of the teachers hides again.. so we might be careful what we wish for. Everyone says the Step and column costs or could save 1.6MM - well I would choose to leave that firestorm alone for now and get the 4MM from the furlough days again if I were negotiating. Of course I am not - which might be a good thing.
There was also talk of keeping services fully functioning and shortening the entire school year to 175 days....I am guessing now but I think they said at the meeting this save 10MM or 11MM. A much cleaner process in my opinion that shooting a BB gun at the current offerings. Teachers do get salary wacked big time on this one as well - but it sure would save a lot of pain and suffering which program is more valuable.
Interesting point "those steps". I think the furlough days were over two years to get to the 4 million. But say for example we did have furlough days agreed at a savings of 4 million a year that would equate to 16 million - close to the cost of S&C for 4 years, which is 15 million - so the furlough days would pay for step and column over the length of the parcel tax.
If we could come to this 4 year agreement ahead of the parcel tax, maybe . . . More than 5 days a year off from school sounds like too much though and I'm not sure how much 5 days would save.
I am finding this yearly "crisis", threatening programs and issuing pink slips to teachers impossible to defend when salaries are still going up. So many people are seeing their salaries go the opposite direction. But if the suggestion is essentially reducing all pay by furloughs to pay for the increases I guess it's worth considering. I would want the parent teacher conferences back as they went with the furloughs and I think they are essential.
I doubt this would ever happen - buy maybe the raises could just go to teachers who are in the $65,000 range. According to the salary scattergram that was on the district website - there are still a good percentage of teachers in this pay scale category who are struggling financially, and have to do more with less everyday do to cuts.
negotiate - I would be OK with that, or maybe just to those who have to pay for their own health insurance.
You are correct Parent,
In my solution haste I forgot the "steps" stuff was cumulative.....so that plan would not work, you could not keep cutting school days over time to just keep pace. It would help for one year, but planning one year at a time is what we are doing now.
The 175 school day is most likely the cleanest next option - the school board seemed to really like that when it was brought up at the last meeting since it might be allowed by the state and would not require approvals or negotiations. Probably not the best option for the kids, but I think we are running low on plans.
Do you know how many days are in the school year now - how many days would be reduced by going to 175?
Yes the healthcare debacle is really killing some teachers financially, and creating salary envy in the community for the rest. It makes district comparisons difficult. I think fixing that is a priority, but not sure if it helps the district financial situation or will make it worse.
If the district was paying the healthcare, or some percentage of it like most districts- then they would have had to take the impact of the astronomical rising costs in healthcare over the years. With PUSD's approach, they came up with some arbitrary figure like 10K or 12K years ago and paid that directly to the employees. Bowser commented that years ago that was sufficient to cover the costs - but now the plans costs $18K+....but the districts obligation is still in the 10-12K range, which might be a better position for them... not sure.
It would be sadly ironic, if an analysis of numbers show that PUSD has actually been saving money over the years by not providing benefits for the majority of employees and just paying them the 12K that is inflating some salaries and has the community in an uproar.
Yes, indeedy. Sure, I was all prepared to support a parcel tax. But then I stepped into a rain puddle over the week-end. But, no, seriously, I'm prepared to do whatever it takes, as long as it means that the elitist teachers will keep getting their salaries cut. Tell you what. I'll support two parcel taxes if the teachers will disband their union and accept minimum wage. Seriously.
I'm appalled by the way teachers spend their salaries. I saw one shopping at the grocery store the other day buying expensive organic vegetables. It's just like with their deferred salaries -- um, I mean pensions. You know? What right do teachers have taking taxpayer money and buying organic vegetables for their kids? I don't buy organic vegetables for my kids, and I bet most private sector workers are more responsible with their money than that. It frosts me to no end. Those organic vegetables being purchased with my tax dollars are unfunded liabilities.
At the last school board meeting they said the normal school day was 185 teaching days - we reduced this to 180 with furlough days....the talk then went into the state allowed minimum of 175. days....which seemed to catch the interest of all the board members.
The contract specifies 185 work days. Of those, 180 are school days and 5 are non-instructional professional training days. The furloughs this current year were for 5 school days and 3 non-instructional professional training days. So, this year, are kids are in school for 175 days instead of the normal 180.
The state permitted schools to go down to 170 for the current school year. I think they would have to pass a similar waiver for next year.
"Yes the healthcare debacle is really killing some teachers financially, and creating salary envy in the community for the rest. It makes district comparisons difficult. I think fixing that is a priority, but not sure if it helps the district financial situation or will make it worse."
I agree, this needs to be fixed.
I'm not an expert on union things, but there could be problems passing the vote internally because it sounds like 60% get the windfall (plus much bigger retirements) since a spouse has insurance.
I agree the 40% who have to buy the insurance (if this number is correct) need more protection from the rising costs. But it can't be done with salaries at their current level (I believe they were raised 10k or maybe even more when health was taken out, so salaries would have to go back this amount if health is reinstated) and this could create some tough negotiating. The district would lose out because health care costs are rising, but will gain through lower retirement costs. Worth watching closely.
Furloughs are short term bandaids that in the end exacerbate the problem into the future. Some issues with furloughs
The funny thing with furlough is this - get your raise (with step-and-column and give it back with furlough). net -net - There is a pay freeze -but teachers get days off! So in the end - it is not a pay freeze -- because teachers get paid the same dollars for less work --thats a net INCREASE in pay for hours worked! and you get days off!
The structural reform is to figure out how to modulate the expenses with the budget so that the schools are sustainable.
This is not a problem to be solved on a year to year basis... It is something that needs to be solved for the longer term so that we can all solve it once and then focus on our family, work and life instead of dealing with this mess every year.
Instead of freezing step and column raises, the more realistic approach would be to lower wages across the board. That seems unlikely given the nature of the relationship between the school board/administration and the unions.
Given the state's budget crisis, I don't think it would be wrong to ask union members to take a 5% pay cut to save jobs.
However, it bears mentioning that furlough days were created by the gubernator to deal with the budget, so the unions have a precedent to draw from...
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