Monday, October 25, 2010

Mequon-Thiensville School Board Meeting

Outmanned by teachers, but not outgunned. As usual, they had snarky comments regarding our concerns and assumed they would have their way because it's what teachers want.

After discussing the adjustments to the 2010/2011 budget (revenue neutral), Superintendent Dr. Desmond Means opened the business end discussing the 2011/2012 budget forecast. His take is that since 80% of the budget is personnel costs, it is time to talk real money and real concessions from teachers.

M/T teachers have averaged 3.43% annual increase in compensation over the last 5 years; a number private sector employees haven't seen. The tax levy has increased 1.49% over the same period, leaving a structural deficit. Teachers need to accept a multi-year pay freeze and cost-of-living over the forseeable future. this is the only way the school gets back on even footing. You can cut all the programs you want; at 80% of the budget, the only way one gets any traction is addressing compensation.

Interestingly enough, the next topic was a new program - 4k kindergarten. I saw the rationale for this all based on "it's for the kids". First, the structural deficit was just the topic and now we are going to add a program? The treasurer indicated it would improve the deficit because they would have further taxing authority. What part of the "we are taxed to death" argument did she not hear? further, there WILL be less state aid. I don't care who is elected. There is no money. The argument that it helps the children transition to 5k is irrelevant. Then why not a 3k program to help transition to 4k? And parents (mostly teachers) are more than happy to tax the residents for the benefit of 140 children? Are these same parents willing to go to a one-income setting in order to stay home and teach their own children? I'm guessing not. This new program would be irresponsible at this time.


Big Fat Gini said...

It's for the children is a bogus argument. Because, adding another program means more time/work/"effort" from teachers which gives them a reason to ask for a pay increase. Sorry, nope.

I don't know, I'm a tad jaded today after hearing the CSISD just gave the finger to parents and approved their rezoning, without grandfathering.

Deekaman said...

The finger is regularly given to taxpayers by school systems. showing up at the Bored meetings may be tilting at windmills, but at least it's futile.

Starman said...

I have two relatives that teach in this district, and they are so far disconnected from reality you would be appalled. They've never worked in private industry yet they never hesitate to spout off about how we get all the bonuses and raises in Big Corporate America.

Oh btw, did I mention that last year I took a 5% pay cut, bonuses were frozen, and all company contributions to the 401k program were stopped? I will *never* get that money back. And also that the company laid off more than 400 people, an action necessary to stay solvent? Those of us remaining considered ourselves fortunate to have a job, and I heard not one person complain about the personal financial impacts. Not one.

My relatives were howling a couple years ago because the district was asking them to make health insurance copayments of some $5 per visit (from $0). Of course, they knew this was the proverbial camel's nose under the tent and they were going to oppose it with all their might. I pay 28% of the health care insurance premiums at my company and suffer very high deductible levels resulting in a lot of additional out-of-pocket expenses for medical and dental care. But my experience isn't the exception in private industry, it's the norm.

Oh yeah, and the teachers are probably eligible to retire at 55, most likely with full benefits - provided of course by us working stiffs, many of us that will have to work until we're 70 before we have enough money to retire. You see, most of us don't have a taxpayer-provided pension fund, either.

According to a 2007 article in the Milwaukee Journal, 31% of M-T teachers were making the top rate of $69,500. Consider that's for 9 months' work, not even including the innumerable vacations afforded during the school year. At an annualized rate, that pay level is equivalent to $93,000 per year! You are exactly right to be outraged at these pay levels and pointing out that that is the key to reducing the structural imbalance in the school budget.

All the power to guys like Chris Christy in NJ who's got the cajones to take on the teacher's unions and call them for what they are - societal leeches that put a net drag on the quality of education by protecting incompetent, ineffective teachers and wasting countless amounts of our hard-earned money.

I give them the finger. Meh.

Deekaman said...

If there are not enough regular folks to voice their opinion on Nov. 4, it will be all teachers bemoaning how awful their lives are and how underpaid they are and how we MUST give them more money because otherwise the children will suffer.