Figures for the teachers’ contract are finally out. The good news is that the cost increase for 2013-2014 isn’t nearly as bad as I had feared. The bad news is that the impact in the subsequent two years is sizable.
Here is the breakdown of ESTIMATED costs of the teachers’ new three-year contract, as provided by the SAU.
This is a 0.6% increase in total district cost over 12-13 year
This is a 1.12% increase in total district cost over 13-14 year
This is a 1.06% increase in total district costs over 13-14 year
TOTAL dollar increase in teachers’ compensation over three year contract is $1.8 million.
Keep in mind that these figures are estimates because FICA could go up, medical insurance will almost certainly go up, and New Hampshire Retirement Services payments may go up as well. Just so you know, included in these figures on the teachers’ contract costs are a 1% cost of living increase in the second and third year payable no matter what inflation is doing.
Where I had worried that the impact of this new contract could push the district’s total cost increase next year as high as 3.5%, I’m relieved to report that it is coming in at 2.6%. That’s better but not great. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all had a 2.6% increase in our household budget even though some of our kids have left home? In the face of declining enrollment, the SAU and the school boards have got to adjust their expectations that their budgets will go up every year. Just to stay at 2.6%, the TRSD budget for 2014-2015 has got to have no more than a 1.5% increase – and that’s assuming taxpayers feel 2.6% is a justified annual increase. I’m not convinced it is.
In other news, last night at the public hearing for the TRSD budget, I spoke on the need for the SAU operating budget to be separated from the Timberlane Regional School District budget, as allowed by law. It was pointed out that the SAU budget is a mere $1 million dollars in the Timberlane budget. You can be assured that budgets with no accountability to the voters will not remain just one million dollars. All budgets should go before voters. It is a financial discipline that keeps all parties conscientious and best empowers taxpayers. My citizen’s petition to this effect will be before the voters in March. I hope you’ll support it. SAU Petition: Let the People Vote
Immediately after the public hearing, the Budget Committee met to vote on their recommendations for the district’s warrant articles. The financial information about the teachers’ contract was given to the the budget committee only after I asked for it and then just on Monday, Jan. 7 at 3:00 p.m. The board was expected to recommend this contract on Thursday night. From the discussion, I suspect the majority of the board did not have time to look at these numbers or read the teachers’ contract, as I had the time to do, thankfully. The board voted to recommend the contract to voters. I voted NOT to recommend the contract to voters. Here’s why: the contract does not link pay raises or job dismissal with job performance. It’s time people paying the bills and suffering the consequences of poor academic results demand more. I’ve started here. Voters, it’s your turn next.