New Teachers’ Contract: Money first, education last as usual

Here’s a list of the most salient points in the new teachers’ contract.

  • Cumulative sick days to 120 day maximum. (Also establishes a disability bank for unused sick days… more on this in a later posting.)
  • Criteria for staff reduction:  Job performance and experience in certified area last criteria of six.
  • Length of school day “on the premises” is 7.25 hours  (including 22 minutes for lunch)  Three evening session required per year no longer than 3 hours each, for some specialties 3 more evening meetings may be required. Plus 20 meetings before or after school no longer than 60 minutes.
  • “School Improvement pay” from a pot of $50,000.
  • “Longevity pay” at 15 years of service entitles teachers to $100 per completed year of service to a max of $3,000 a year paid as a lump sum July 15.
  • “Retirement incentive:  “1.25% of the employee’s last salary times the number of consecutive years immediately prior to retirement that the employee served the School District in a full-time position in this bargaining unit.  However, in no event shall the amount paid to an employee exceed forty-five percent (45%) of the employee’s last salary. “
  • As for raises, well, each teacher gets one step increase each year of the three-year contract except for top step teachers. The actual money involved has not been disclosed except to say that it is a $2 million contract increase.* I don’t know what percentage increase a “step” is, what is happening to the top step teachers, or if there is a cost of living adjustment agreement involved with the steps. The Budget Committee isn’t given any of this information as a normal matter of course.  I’ve requested it and trust it will be forthcoming before the Jan. 10th public hearing on the budget and warrant articles, of which approval of this contract will be one.

You may note that teachers get an incentive for longevity and an incentive to retire.  I’m so old fashioned I thought a pay check was a longevity incentive and a fat pension was a retirement incentive, and that being good at your job would be the primary consideration in whether or not you get canned.  I don’t mind paying teachers handsomely for quality educational results.  I don’t mind giving them lavish benefits that most people in the private sector can only dream of… if they are making our kids leaders of the future. I very much mind giving teachers all this and not having them accountable for poor student performance. I intend to vote against every teacher contract that does not allow the Superintendent to fire underperforming teachers for that reason alone. We can throw as much money at teachers and facilities as the SAU likes, but until we have the stick of firing teachers and giving pay raises based on merit alone- regardless of years of service – we are going to get more mediocrity.  So far our new Superintendent is using a carrot… pay increases to the SAU staff, big pay increases to the teachers, a thankfully rebuffed stipend increase to the school board members. He must be also given a stick (whether he wants it or not) and only the voters can make this happen. I’m willing to bet that a union would surrender staff reduction criteria for this fat pay increase.  Unfortunately, if you approve this contract, you’ve given them everything with very little in return.

In fairness, there are some new elements to this contract that I need to compare with the previous contract which may show this contract in a somewhat better light, but the fundamental problem in education, the lack of accountability for educational results, remains – with a dazzling $2 million reward, 100% more than the average of previous contract increases.

We await the promised school district report card. Until then, for more on Timberlane’s academic performance see Do More Teachers = Better Results?

To view the teachers’ contract:

*CLARIFICATION:  My first draft of this posting said $2 million contract… The teachers’ contract is in the tens of millions. I meant the contract INCREASE was $2 million over the last contact, which is a 100% increase over the average of previous contract increases.


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Filed under Budget Committee, SAU 55 Issues, School Board Issues

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