Curmudgeon's Corner

cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner

Schools & Education, Part Two...

Education, Germantown, Political, Quality of Life, School Board, Taxes

First, there was a story by Thomas J. McKillen in the November 15th edition of Germantown Express News concerning the November 10th School Board meeting.  In that story there were quotes attributed to Jon Stachowiak who is the President of the Germantown Education Association.  The article stated:

"GEA President Jon Stachowiak opened his remarks...by noting that Germantown ranked 'number one in all levels' on the WKCE test scores out of 50 school districts in southeast Wisconsin."

"'The teachers have led their students to a high level of success', Stachowiak said."

"He further stated that two-thirds of district teaching staff have Master's Degrees."

"'This success achieved on the WKCE test is not achieved by putting in a contracted day or working to the minimum", Stachowiak said."

It is important that we recognize the excellence in our district; I was pleased to see this in print.  I thought it also interesting that this had been achieved with the classroom crowding we have been told about.

In that same meeting, Stachowiak also cited that teachers had higher wages in the Hartford, Slinger, West Bend and Kewaskum districts, and said that "another offer by the school board which is the state minimum will not be accepted".  I was disappointed that this comment was made in this setting; that seemed more appropriate in a negotiating session and the board meeting was not being held for that purpose so far as I know.  Additionally, I don't know what he meant by "will not be accepted".  That sounds like a job action of some sort could result.

Teacher compensation has always been a bit of a mystery to me, and I suspect it may be for you, also.

We have a step system in place in Germantown which recognizes the combination of tenure and education.  There are a total of 84 different steps, or pay grades, in this matrix.  It is this matrix that is affected by the QEO that we covered in the first part of this discussion.  If a 3.8% increase is made, part of that goes for benefits and the rest, if there is a "rest", goes for salary and is applied to this matrix.

My understanding is that it is possible for teachers to gain salary increases even if no increase has been granted through contract negotiations.  That would happen if more credit hours had been earned, or if a new degree level had been achieved, or if tenure demarcations had been passed.  It is also possible for both education and tenure increases to be involved and that could see a higher increase in overall salary without regard to contract negotiations.  It seems that it can also be said that increases in total are not always limited to the 3.8% or whatever had been approved.  Certainly, steps could be passed at the same time increases were made to the matrix.

The step increases max out, I believe, when a teacher has obtained a Master's Degree with an additional 30 credit hours earned, and has at least 14 years in the district.  The GEA President mentioned that two-thirds of our district's teachers have their Master's Degrees, although I have no idea as to the cumulative years in the district for any of those people.  That suggests to me that our district has more people in the higher steps than in the lower steps, thus the overall costs to the district would be higher than might seem to be the case.

The 'rule of thumb' I've heard applied says that some 85% of the district budget is consumed by people costs.

This is basically how the system looks at this time.  I want to explore the benefit cost implications and am planning that for another part to this discussion since it could take some time to put together. 

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