Will We Ever Have A Contract?

In a stack of papers called Union.

  • Feb
  • 15
  • 2006

Certainly not a shock, it’s more than a little annoying that the district office all but commands teachers to accept their pay and be happy for it while people who never see a student throughout their entire year are paid 3 or 4 times what a teacher could ever dream of making.

Trust me; this isn’t another diatribe about how teachers don’t get paid enough. We are paid what we are paid and that’s that. In my district, we are actually paid fairly well. However, the district throwing around money while at the same time pulling out empty pockets during contract negotiations reminds me of Jekyll and Hyde. Or Sybil. Yeah, more like Sybil.


As idealistic as this may sound, money should never be the determining factor when dealing with education; as a society, we need to fight to make that so. Whether in the matter of paying for textbooks on a school campus or paying for Harvard for the son of parents who never attended college, money should not block the way to a better educational future for those with aspirations.

But last year, we saw that money was going to compromise the way education was carried out in the form of 956 pink slips administered throught the district. Money constantly prevents things from happening. Currently, money spent (poorly) in one place will prevent it from being spent (wisely) in another.

Realistic Spending

In my district, we recently had a vacated superintendent position. The person who stepped in to temporarily fill those shoes has now been signed on to an 18-month contract. The next time you talk about teacher tenure and complain that teachers are guaranteed a job for life, don’t forget to also complain about administrators and other people who never even see students. But it gets worse.

Compensation for the superintendent position just increased 14%. That’s right, along with a year-and-a-half promise of employment comes a 14% increase in the salary. Because there are more responsibilities? Because the job got harder? Because the district is rolling around in extra money with which it doesn’t know what to do? A resounding NO! to all of those options.

This is money being spent poorly.

Please, Sir, May I Have Some More?

Meanwhile, the district has on the table for all teachers to accept a Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA) minus 2%. That ends up being somewhere in the neighborhood of a 4% raise.

Add to that the fact that schools are creating afterschool graduation academies to allow students the chance to make up missed units. Those academies, staffed by teachers being paid overtime, receive funding from somewhere. Furthermore, the whisper goes that PE classes might be enrolled at below the contract level of 42 students. This means more PE classes and more PE teachers. Where is this money coming from? All of this, but the district cannot afford to pay teachers the full COLA?

At this point in the game, anything that the district does that costs money, any policy set in place that calls for additional funds, weakens their argument that they cannot afford to pay teachers the full COLA or even add another percent or two.

To do this would be money spent wisely.

The Further From Students, The Less Wise The Spending

The way I see it, money spent on people who have a direct impact on students is the wisest choice a district can make. Spending money on those who have an indirect yet meaningful impact on students, people whose job it is to make teachers’ jobs easier and let teachers focus on best teaching practices, is second best. Spending decisions moving away from that direct impact are less and less wise, ultimately ending in poor spending.

Currently at the height of ironically prioritized spending decisions is the pay of the superintendent. The lowest priority should be paying money to a person who performs public relations for the district. In my district, this is a person who does very little (from what I can tell) in the way of drumming up grants, gathering any other extra funding, forging relationships with businesses, or extending opportunities for the district to improve. And paying a firm to hunt for that public relations person, paying an organization simply to find a suitable superintendent candidate, is beyond poor, bordering on negligent.

When I see that the district superintendent now makes somewhere around $200,000 a year (again, a 14% increase from what was paid just a few weeks ago for performing the exact same job) and the offer on the table says to take COLA minus 2%, good faith seems broken.

All this and a benefit cap at the current per-member cost plus first 15% of any future increase, though the contract only lasts 3 years. Do we accept the offer or go back to negotiations? It’s taken the entire school year to even get this far.

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