Ray Clarke Pens Letter to the Editor in Favor of a TESD Earned Income Tax Consideration

Ray Clarke attended the T/E School District’s Earned Income Tax presentation this week and wrote the following Letter to the Editor.  On Monday, October 25 the School Board will decide whether to move forward with a May referendum on the EIT. As Ray explains, the school district will not be able to move forward with an EIT unless it receives the vote of the residents.  I hope that the School Board members will vote on Monday to continue the process . . . it’s important that residents have the opportunity to participate with their vote in May.

Pro-TESD EIT

To the Editor:

Next Monday, Oct. 25, the Tredyffrin/Easttown School Board will take a vote that is critical to the financial prospects of the district and its residents: should it go forward with consideration of an Earned Income Tax (EIT) as one tool to fill the looming budget gap? Last night (Oct. 18) the board held an excellent, well-attended information session explaining the tax and its implementation, and I encourage all residents to watch the broadcast (times on the TESD Web site, www.tesd.k12.pa.us) and then make their views known to the board.

School-district expenses are continuing their inexorable rise, fueled by compensation costs: contracted salary increases, health-care costs and pension costs. The official projection for 2011-12 is for a $7-million gap with extremely favorable assumptions for investment income and transfer taxes risking another $2 million. Last year T/E cut some $6 million in expenses, drew down its Fund Balance reserves and contained its property-tax increase to the Act 1 limit of 2.9 percent. This year the options are more limited. Salaries can only be reduced through attrition, even if programs are cut. Supplies expenses are already back to 2008-9 levels. Real-estate assessments are being appealed at record rates. The state cap on property-tax increases is worth only $1.2 million.

An EIT would be one way to limit the pain for taxpayers, 40 percent of whom already pay such a tax to the municipality in which they work. This money (perhaps as much as $6 million) would come back to benefit the district. The tax is low-cost to collect, diversifies the tax base away from dependence on the property market and would not, by definition, impact those who have lost their jobs. Ninety-five percent of jurisdictions in the state have an EIT: those that do not are mostly clustered around Philadelphia. This is a legacy of the days when taxes paid in the city would not benefit the taxing locality; now there is the potential for gaming revenues to fill that gap and directly offset property taxes if there is a local EIT.

The school district cannot implement an EIT without approval from residents voting in the primary next May. The process to put the question on the ballot requires a – non-binding – notice to the townships of the intent to put the question on the ballot. This is the reason for next week’s board vote.

Many unknowns remain. In particular, would the townships jump on the coattails and claim the 50/50 split of the revenue to which they are entitled? How much can expenses be cut? What is the best-case budget gap? How large would the property-tax increase have to be absent an EIT, and would that increase have to be put to voter referendum? What would the EIT rate be and how much money would it raise? What would be the likely property-tax offset, if any?

It’s important that the school board vote to continue to explore these questions, and allow the voters to make their voice heard next May.

Raymond F. Clarke, Malvern

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  1. The 40% number is not correct. At the meeting, it was stated that approximately 40% of Tredyffrin residents pay an EIT elsewhere. The School Board did not have an estimate for Easttown yet.

    If an EIT is passed, there will be one main beneficiary: the union. Negotiations are coming up in 2012, and the union will quickly lay a claim to the EIT revenue. (Remember: they got HUGE raises in the last contract, which is why we are having these budget problems!)

    I actually hope the School Board does send the EIT to the voters. It would send a powerful statement to the union if the voters rejected the EIT. If there is no EIT, the unions will need to be reasonable in their raise requests (working within Act 1 limits). Imposing an EIT looks like an easy win for the district, but the only winners will be the unions.

    1. Frustrated Parent:

      Re your post, no truer words have ever been written on this board. Bank on it, $7mm in EIT revenue = +/- $7 million in teacher comp.

      1. Isn’t the real issue the fact that members of our party voted for these hefty salaries and benefits in the first place? That is a point you continually ignore Mike.

        1. No — that’s not the point. The point is that a salary negotiation with a group that retains the right to strike in a community that absolutely could not tolerate a strike is leverage no board can successfully ignore. These are not “hefty salaries and benefits” in the context of what other districts offer….and TE has stayed competitive. THE POINT is changing the conversation to balancing the power. Last year the Union pulled a “stunt” during the budget talks and got the public support again. Individually, teachers are a fabulous bunch and do a wonderful job. It’s collectively that the TEEA (actually, the PSEA since our locals have ceded most of their presence to the state mentality) is an issue. SO — the only bargaining chip the board has is 1) to demonstrate that there is no more money than they offer and 2) that this community has said no and that a strike is a bad decision for the teachers, but one that the district will have to bear if that is what THEY choose.

          The other piece — we need to be sure the members of the school board understand FULLY the ramifications of each decision they make relating to salaries and benefits. If you are going to have to endure a strike to prove a point, you may as well make a serious point.

    2. Good points, indeed. The problem as I see it is that the union ALREADY has their hands on the money through the current contract. I would hope that any EIT rate would be set such as to deal with the problem through the end of the current contracts (with perhaps property tax relief and some fund balance usage). Thereafter, it’s a new game.

      If the voters rejected both a sufficient property tax increase and an EIT, the district could manage by running down the fund balance for a couple of years, but the day of reckoning would only be postponed.

  2. I echo the sentiments of Frustrated Parent – the only beneficiaries of an EIT are the union members.

    The current school directors are the ones who got us into this mess by agreeing to huge raises. ($110,000 pay for teachers next year) Enacting an EIT only allows them to cave in to union demands again in 2012. The EIT should be voted down and the current board sent home next November.

  3. I, too, agree that the unions will suck the money up.

    Here’s an idea though: in the next contract, as part of the “compromise” let’s force the union to take the clause out their contracts that says only people who have taught in the district within one year can be hired as teachers in case of contract non-renewal.

    This would open the district up to being able to recruit excellent teachers from other areas AND reduce staffing costs. Teachers would flock to T/E if they could — but right now they can’t because of this one clause in the contract.

    Offer it up and see what happens — the union will NEVER agree to it and then we will know that the union cares about their money and not our kids.

    1. Sorry, the requirement that replacement teachers must have taught within one year in case of contract non-renewal is not negotiable. It’s state law.

      To have this written into law at the state level shows the power of the PSEA.

  4. I agree with Ray that the school board should go forward and agree to place it on the ballot. I also believe that it would be overwhelmingly defeated based on the feedback I hear. The people who pay it already obviously would like it to come home — but the majority who do not pay it are not likely to say “sure.”

    Next May, I believe about half the school board will be in the primary if they are running for re-election. While energy can and s hould go to consider the EIT, this is really a time when people are going to need to stand up and run — and make decisions about what they believe in and spare us the platitudes of spending money wisely. Don’t run if you don’t know how to do the job. Don’t vote for someone who doesn’t know how to do the job. But step up and say you’ll do it if you believe you are qualified to understand the job AND put in the time. It absolutely was the most time-consuming period of my life — and there was precious little appreciation for it, as in politics, you only get press when you screw up.
    So — these “volunteer” positions — unpaid — need qualified participants. They also need people whoa re willing to work in the public — not tuck their opinions behind executive sessions and go along to get along. The old phrase “peace at any price” is no longer affordable.
    And get ready folks — TE is going to use distance learning to prove that we can employ excellent teachers without spending $100K a year. And for the record, a good teacher is WORTH the $100K a year….it’s just that the not good ones get paid the same and can’t get fired. There is the rub.

  5. News flash people: You WILL pay more money in taxes over the next few years. You can either pay it based on the value of your home, or you can pay it based on the value of your income.

    So stop debating contracts that can’t be changed. The far bigger issue is that if the state doesn’t bail us out of the PSERS issue, that will make the contracts look like a needle in a hay stack.

    You can choose to pay more money based on the value of your home which will not change even if you lose your job OR you can pay based o what you earn. The safety factor for anyone is that if they lose their job then they do not pay. It is the safest end-user option for raised taxes.

  6. The union contract is ridiculous…BUT it is very hard to negotiate a contact when you have no power. Contracts pit school boards against teachers with the parents/children caught in the middle. Since the power is all in the hands of the union, the school board is forced to take a strike to get better rates. With the current economic situation, I suspect parents might support the board. The situation was completely different a few years ago.

    I’ve spoken to school board members who tell me privately that an EIT needs to be defeated if we want a good contract next time. The votes need to show the union that the well is dry…and that the board needs to stay within Act 1 constraints going forward.

    How would you feel if you started paying 1% EIT more…and it ALL went into the pockets of the union in the form of raises? We’ll be right back to where we are now (in terms of deficits) but with no “magic trick” left to get more revenue if we need it.

    The residents advocated the EIT are shortsighted if they think they’ll see reduced property taxes. It’s never going to happen. We’ll be taxed to the absolute legal maximum.

    So advocating for an EIT (if it’s defeated) is actually not a bad idea. But passing one is just a gift to the unions.

    I also wonder about selfish motives from some people regarding the EIT. How much more likely are you to support it if it doesn’t impact you? It’s very easy to vote away someone else’s money. How many of the advocates either work in Philadelphia (or a location with an EIT), are retired or mainly have investment income? I’d suspect most of them. Because generally people aren’t enthusiastic for a new tax when it impacts them. Just a thought…

    1. I’ve spoken to school board members who tell me privately that an EIT needs to be defeated if we want a good contract next time. The votes need to show the union that the well is dry…and that the board needs to stay within Act 1 constraints going forward.

      This is one of the most absurd things I have read here. In other words, to have the best negotiating position, we have to bankrupt the school district. Keep in mind that this advice comes from those that put us in this pickle .

  7. Frustrated Parent says, “If the EIT passed, there will be one main benficiary – the union.” Really? You don’t think that preserving valued programs and student services will benefit students?

    Blame the union. (Blame the unemployed. Blame the poor) – for taking your money. You imagine yourselves to be more hard-working and responsible, less greedy, not looking for handouts – like those other people.

    Union-bashing. There is a resurgent us against them mentality based on that old sense of entitlement and the fact that resources are scarce and people feel uncertain about their futures. It’s PC to make dreogatory remarks about unions. What did a regular on this blog call them? Thugs.

    At Monday’s EIT meeting, someone asked if the district could “de-unionize”. There was clapping and cheering in response.

    Such arrogance. Or more aptly, ignorance.

    I agree with Andrea. Effective teachers ARE worth $100k. Those who cannot or will not meet thaose high standards do not deserve the security of life-time tenure. No one does, really. Supreme Court justices come to mind…

    But changes take time. Teachers spent decades among the lowest-paid professionals. They unionized to gain better working conditions and fairer compensation.. They dutifully paid into their pension fund while school districts and the state underfunded their portion.

    Next year T/E’s pension expense will be $10 million – about 10% of the total budget.. The state of PA under Gov. Ridge approved lowering pension contribution rates back in 2001. Ridge thought he made a good decision. It turns out he did not.

    So now the teachers are at fault.?

    In 2008 the TE school board voted to approve a teacher contract they felt was competitive with nearby school districts’. The economy was fine, the district’s fund balance healthy. They thought they made a good decision.

    Now they’re guilty of giving away the store, and some on this blog hint that maybe those SB members who voted YES for “generous” teacher raises in 2008 should be turned out in next year’s election. Now they need certain qualifications to sit on the school board – ones that qualify ythem as budget experts

    Code for hard-nosed and tight-fisted…

    Personally, I like the fact that our school board is made up of well-educated people from many different backgrounds. All professionals. All willing to work for free many hours every week and endure endless complaints. How many people could keep that commitment?

    I say we need SB members who put the district’s children first, understand its priorities, and have the courage to stand up for a fair budget that preserves the quality of our schools.. A school district that values its excellent teachers and pays them accordingly…. keeping in mind that economic times have changed and teachers must appreciate taxpayers’ bind.

    1. Kate thinks we should “put the district’s children first”.
      This is a tired cliche that, upon inspection, is nonsensical. It’s the code phrase for unrestrained spending since there is a never ending list of additional programs that will benefit the children. The responsible phrase should be “put the community’s interests first”.

      Kate wants “a fair budget that preserves the quality of our schools”.
      Many believe there is a strong relationship between spending and educational achievement. If this were so then Lower Merion which spends well in excess of TE would have all Rhodes scholars.

      Kate wants “A school district that values its excellent teachers and pays them accordingly”.
      Ask the HR department if they have trouble attracting and retaining teachers. Teachers flock to the district and no one leaves for economic reasons. TE would still be an attractive district if salaries were cut by 10%.

      Kate’s type of thinking leads to spending well in excess of what is needed to deliver a thorough and efficient education.

      1. The next time you go to the polls in a primary for school board, vote for a candidate that agrees with you….or you can lament forever and the Kates of the world will articulately take your money.

        But don’t ignore the value of the education as a major piece in the value of your home. that’s the fine line. One of the newest board members has 3 young children….beat out someone with 3 older children….just who is likely to want to spend money wisely vs. spending money on their kids behalf. It’s not selfish — it’s human.

    2. “What did a regular on this blog call them? Thugs.”

      Yes, I believe that was me, and I stand by my anti-union bias 100%.

      Kate, have you ever had the experience of a union attempting to put you out of business? Perhaps you are on the other side of that equation?

  8. Kate
    Your last line is the most relevant to this discussion. Teachers have to keep in mind that taxpayers don’t have collective bargaining and the right to strike to force their own pay. IF teachers gave up the right to strike (i.e., if the legislature treated teachers like other mandatory public service employees), it would be a different story. So many teachers have never done anything else but teach — and most of their friends are teachers. Many truly have little understanding of the realities of the economy. And don’t disregard the fact that I sat at countless union negotiations and I am more than aware of the general approach to the process on the part of the union. They care about their jobs, and they care about the kids — but mostly they do what they are told by the union leadership.
    Here’s an example: About 5 contracts ago now, we were making progress in many areas and I suggested that the teachers change their 7:35 minute day to an 8 hour contractual day. ANY good teacher will tell you that they could never do their job in less than 8 hours. Most teachers are in the building well beyond 8 hours. But I was repeatedly told that it is the longest day in Chester County. The reason I asked for 8 hours is to help the public understand the true workload — and take away the “they don’t even work 8 hours”…
    Nope. Non-negotiable. Want to know why — really? Because the PSEA knows that once teachers are ordered back to work after the maximum strike time, the union “works to the contract” which means PROFESSIONALS are told to stop working after 7:35 minutes (30 minutes of which is duty-free lunch). So even after coming back to work, they don’t do what it takes to get their job done.
    Now — do I think TE teachers would behave that way? No I do not. But TE Teachers will not budget on the idea of an 8-hour work day because the PSEA doesn’t want them too.
    So Katie, it’s not union bashing. It’s shared sacrifice, and given the fact that every administrator (maybe some exceptions, but none come to mind) was once a teacher. The admins push for raises for themselves and have no incentive not to want teachers to get raises because that primes the pump. So it’s very difficult to communicate the reality of a new economy…TE will do it with distance learning, but even that will get grieved and it will be up to who knows what judge to decide if the PSEA will win that war too (let’s guess….)

    These are the issues that make district consolidation almost inevitable. Other states have state contracts and the teacher salaries are legislatively determined by the tax structure. Right now in PA, Rendell can cut education spending when he doesn’t get the stimulus money he and his cronies knew they wouldn’t get — but district budgets are set and they cannot cut staff or salaries in response. If the state had to fund the cost of education, they could not make those cuts to education….but they also could control the cost of teachers by setting state contracts. No competition between poorer districts to attract teachers worthy of the higher salaries….

    And no — understanding how to be a school board member is NOT code for hard-nosed and tight-fisted. It is code for DO THE JOB. We have some great people on the school board, but we have ALWAYS had members who phone it in. After all — they are not spending their own money. And they have to negotiate with people they work with — take advice from people they admire (administrators) and yes — protect the quality of the district. So it doesn’t mean being hard nosed or tight fisted. It means understanding the nuances of the job, not just the public posturing. It means recognizing the taxpayer as a partner — not thinkng of them as dopes who don’t understand the decisions the board makes. It means not knocking down buildings without any plan on where to put the stuff IN the building — and buying properties in a neighborhood and treating interested parties as nuisances. It also means not treating RTK applications as requests from a public seeking to understand the issues — not people seeking to meddle.

    Tredyffrin Republican needs to know what he is talking about instead of consistently referring to the board as the people who put us in this position. The economy and the state have put us in this position. Negotiating a teachers’ contract is not peace at any price, but almost. And I remind you again that teachers lose not ONE DIME if they do strike. It costs them nothing….so if you believe that the board gave away the store….then you have not looked at the market both for teachers or for administrators. What the teachers have not looked it, however, is the MARKET.

    1. Andrea,

      I have to respectfully take issue with your idea that the “economy and state have put us in this position”.

      The fault lies entirely with the board that agreed to a teacher contract in 2008 that gave teachers well above Act 1 Index increases. Why would the board agree to 5% or 6% pay increases when the index for the prior years was 3.9%, 3.4% and 4.4%? Where did they think the money was coming from? Yes, the economy has made the situation worse, but we’d be in a similar situation even with a robust economy

      I’m sure teacher negotiations are difficult. The threat of a teacher strike must be taken seriously. But don’t you think the better choice would have been to weather the strike in 2008-09 to get a reasonable teacher contract rather than deal with large teacher layoffs and program cuts now?

      1. CitizenOne
        Thanks for your thoughtful answer.
        Without naming names and taking shots at the current board members, I can agree with you to the extent that the mission of the board negotiators were not necessarily keyed to economic realities. Likewise last year amidst the “budget crisis”, these same decision makers decided to give raises to every ‘non-contract’ employee. While I am supportive of responding to market conditions (administrators are actually in a competitive salary position because they are difficult to hire), I did part company with the board decision makers before last year’s budget because of their tendency to view the school district through a singular lens.
        Kate thinks my reference to electing board members who understand the job means tight fisted, but in fact nothing could be further from the truth. IF you understand the dynamics of the market and how salary schedules can work, you do not need to be tight fisted. But if you look at the make up of our board, you are quite hard pressed to find many members who are “part” of the local economy. Doctors, non-profit directors, lawyers, educators….these are not bototm line professions.
        The other issue is what I have long lamented — the lack of term limits. I ran for the board for a 3rd term because we were in the process of moving forward with renovating Conestoga — and the public rancor (“no supersizing the high school”) was a growing noise….so I stayed to get that job done. I resigned after the contracts were approved. But there is a mindset on the board that “board continuity” is critically important. While I agree that continuity has some value, I think after awhile the board members connect too strongly with the administrative team, and it becomes “us vs. them.” The current board does more performing than deliberating. Their presentations are so scripted that it is unlikely that any “new thinking” would emerge.
        But while I am taking shots at the sitting board with this kind of post, I only do so collectively, because I don’t see a long line of qualified people wanting to do the job. I have discussed this with both parites — they absolutely NEED to find and qualify the candidates they endorse. NO PLATITUDES….no “spending money wisely” nonsense. To really understand how someone will be on a board, you DO need to know what ages their kids are….what their spouse does for a living…who they truly believe their constituency is. Without that context, you cannot just vote for someone and expect that they will represent any particular point of view. Once you have been on the board a term or two, you really do start to want to “protect” the status quo…and it’s up to voters to turn them over — but by stepping up and identifying new qualified candidates. Remember — the teachers meet statewide every summer to set strategies for the contracts going forward. They use professional liaisons who do contracts all over the state. School boards tend to walk in to the negotiations with administrative background and review….but after awhile, that review/background is so inbred that it’s hard to understand what the goals of the contract are.

        LONG ANSWER and I’m sorry — there are not sound bites. Bottom line — strikes damage schools and communities for a very long time. “Taking a strike” is not simply weathering something. They can strike repeatedly….and they never need to say yes. And with only one exception to my knowledge. the TESD has always made settlements retroactive….so the disruption can continue forever. The Board can demand things, but they cannot force the outcome….it really is a one-way street. I encourage you to go to the website StopTeachersStrikes.org (I think — you can google it — it’s about PA) and learn about the laws and how one-sided the state of PA is. There really is a peace at a reasonable price mentality to a board unless the TEEA works with them. With the PSEA at the table, that’s not likely.

        1. Andrea,

          I think the balance of power has shifted away from the union to the District.

          I think most agree that an Act 1 referendum and an EIT referendum will be defeated.

          If so, here is the important question for the school board – Is it better to weather a strike now or wait a few years until you’re forced into drastic head count reductions and program cuts?

          Here is the important question for the union – Will we settle for a contract in-line with the Act 1 Index or are we willing to strike for a contract that will eventually sacrifice our fellow union members’ jobs?

          TE is the example of what can happen if the school board and union make the wrong choice.

          Districts currently in negotiations will take notice.

        2. Someone said on this blog there are 100 applicants for every one position. I would think that gives the board some leverage? And how about the solid reputation our community has for supporting the school other than financially? Parents who are active and interested in their kids education? An educated parent base.. extra curricular involvement and success? When going to open house at Conestoga or really any of the schools in the district, just about every teacher opens with how happy they are to have landed in TE. Sure, salary and benefits has something to do with that sentiment, but it sure beats many other districts, in Philly and other suburbs as far as parental support is concerned. Maybe the board need not be so “afraid”?

  9. Kate- What exactly is wrong with wanting to keep more of the money I earn rather than paying higher taxes so the teachers union gets a big raise? You write as if that is somehow a bad thing. The union got over 20% in raises over the past four years. Do you know anyone in private industry getting 20% in raises? We’re all losing our jobs or getting salary cuts. So how is it so evil for me to want to keep my money instead of paying 1% of my income so the teachers get fat raises while I work longer and longer hours for less money and just hope I don’t lose my job?

    And what about fairness? An EIT only impacts those of us who work. At least a PIT applies to everyone…including those wealthy enough to live off their investments.

    And do you know why the crowd clapped when asking about deunionizing? It’s because we’re all sick of seeing public employees treated better than us: job security, defined benefit pensions, fabulous healthcare compared to the rest of us, and guaranteed raises.

    If I thought the EIT would actually “help the children” instead of just lining the pockets of the union, I’d support it. But I frankly have no confidence that the school board would take a strike. So if the union sees money there…they WILL take it. The school board just doesn’t have the negotiating power (or the willingness) to take on the union. I’m not blaming them…would you want to take a strike? As a working parent, a strike would cause major problems for me.

    These parents who want to pay more taxes “for the children” CAN. Just write a check to the schools. We’re not stopping you from paying more! But some of us want the district to live within its means. And I resent you wanting to vote away my income.

    1. You said earlier that, “It’s because we’re all sick of seeing public employees treated better than us: job security, defined benefit pensions, fabulous healthcare compared to the rest of us, and guaranteed raises.”

      If that’s true then why didn’t you or others who feel public employees have it so easy, go into those fields? Is it because you (like myself) did not want those jobs or saw them as not paying enough? We can’t criticize public employees for their decisions when we know darn well that if the economy was doing well, we would not complain that public employees should have the same perks as us in the private sector.

      You feel that they have the better lifestyle? Go get you certification and join them.

      1. Tredyffrin Parent
        That one is not fair. When the economy is buzzing, teachers can and do leave for other fields….but when the economy is failing, other jobs cannot compete for the teaching jobs. “Go get certified” is a clear barrier to entry, and tenure protects teachers from losinig their jobs. Here’s the myth –while teachers ARE well paid, they still don’t believe it. KNow why? Because they don’t have as much spending money in their view, but the reason is the rest of the world has to save money to retire….Those $100,000 teachers Kate talks about get $100,000 pensions — AND social security. Do you know how much money the comman man needs to save to generate $100,000 a year (tax free in PA?) In today’s market, it would take about $3,000,000 in income-producing assets to generate $100,000 a year — and you’d pay taxes on it. See if you can find 10 teachers who understand that?
        Here is the problem TP with your view — when the market is doing well, teachers are offered more money to take the job….but in Pennsylvania, the employer cannot offer less when the market goes down….so teachers are pretty much taken care of. Why else do you think there are 100 applicants for every job opening? So if the market was doing well, we would not complain, but that’s because we would not be asking to pay for something we couldn’t afford….right now, that’s exactly what you are suggesting we do.

        1. No, I do agree that there should be fairness and the payment for teacher should be consistent with the level of being able to pay in the district.

          However, I have read this blog and have seen the de-humanizing of teachers as greedy part-time working manipulators who are not above holding our children hostage.

          I do think our political leaders have created a wedge issue and then have enjoyed themselves as we fight against each other.

          Wedge #1 – The Pension: The teachers did not create the pension crisis, our leaders in Harrisburg did. They were the ones who chose to raise the multiplier, not the teachers. And, when schools’ started to store money knowing this was going to happen, they were accused of wasting money. Now, for many teachers who played by these politicians games, the politicians want to score cheap political points by changing the rules and riding voter anger.

          Wedge #2 – Job Security: It seems like a mix bag. I do agree that “last one in, first one out” can harm the freshness in a teaching staff, I also see it as a mixed blessing. Older teachers do have the experience and I think for teaching, that has to mean something. (I can think back to my first or second year teachers and then compare them to my more experience teachers, there is something there that I believe comes with age.)

          In terms of tenure I think it is another mixed thing. Teachers can be fired but, it does require diligence on the part of the admin. If a teacher has 20 performance reviews and then the school wants to nix them, something sounds fishy. (It’s no more then if my employer wants to fire me after giving me sterling reviews, I would demand to know why.)

          You stated earlier, “So if the market was doing well, we would not complain, but that’s because we would not be asking to pay for something we couldn’t afford” and I do agree, times are tough. However, when the economy was doing well did we push for higher teacher pay for for better health care? (I can’t speak for you but, I know I didn’t.) When the economy picks up again, will we advocate then?

          I do not want to across as 100% pro teacher b/c I think there are things they can change but we will never get anywhere if both sides are unwilling to talk to each other w/o the bashing of each other.

  10. Citizen One
    The power shift in the district’s favor only works if you believe the “district” (i.e., the school board comprised of Pete Motel, Kevin Mahoney, Betsy Faden and I’m not sure who else will do the contract?) want to hold the line….but I believe that some of those folks are not inclined to do so. I hope I’m wrong….but these are the folks who bought into a raise for non-contract people last year “for morale.” How about the morale of the public? Most don’t pay enough attention and don’t care…until it comes home. Freezing every employee on their current step for 3 years would be a step in the right direction….no raises — just keep your jobs. Education would generate a wage increase by moving laterally….so they would be rewarded ONLY if they did something pro-active. Plus — each year a teacher stays on they add 2.5% of their final 3 years to their pension vesting….(and I believe it is still okay to go over 100%).

  11. Andrea,

    I don’t agree that it only works “if you believe the “district”want[s] to hold the line.”

    The board and union would have to have wanton disregard for the well being of the students and community to sign a contract they know will result in massive teacher layoffs. As long as the public refuses to pass a referendum the board and union are limited in the size of the contract that can be ratified.

    Let’s see how this balance of power unfolds over the next year or two. I hope I am not wrong.

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