Monthly Archives: June 2015

Sometimes You have to Draw a Line! Hard to endorse a Raise for Teachers

Teachers

UTL Current Contract

I support teachers and support staff and think most do an outstanding job, Like most of us my kids have had their favorites from Lois Cullen at the City Magnet to Mr. Burns at the Robinson. I’ve known Dottie Flanigan since she was my 4th grade teacher, long before she was my son’s 4th grade teacher.

Unfortunately times have changed and municipal budgets have gotten tighter. Raising taxes is tougher because in the private sector businesses are not able to give raises due to the rising cost of mandates in health insurance , unemployment contribution, sick time pay and minimum wage increases. Most of us are asked to do more with less staff.

If you are a salaried position, 40 hours seems like a short week and many of us work from home or on weekends. Just like teachers by supplies for students, we sometimes buy items for the office or the staff.

Sometimes you have to draw a line and say SORRY, I’d love to be able to give you a raise but do to the current fiscal climate I can’t support that.

I would first ask the City Manager if we indeed saved a million dollars in health care cost this year and a forecasted savings of another million in 2016, why isn’t that money being given to the School Dept. since they have the largest group who agreed to change to the GIC insurance? Have cost to the employees decreased? If no money or reduction in cost have been passed on to these employees I would ask why not?

Based on looking at the City Budget has it stands now and knowing first hand the challenges private businesses face and after reviewing the current UTL contract it is hard to justify giving the teachers a BIG raise. It is even hard to give them a small raise because of what it cost to the bottom line of the budget.

In Lowell a .5% Salary increase adds an additional $600,000 to the School Dept. Budget , a 1% Increase adds approx. $1.2 Million

There is no way for me to accurately figure out what 4.5% or even 1.5% in step increases would cost the city but I’m willing to bet it is easily over $500,000.

If you look at some of the Provisions in the last contract, step increases given to teachers was pretty good for the teachers.

Upon ratification by the Union, effective July 1, 2012, there shall be a 2% salary increase to all steps and lanes, then the below amounts will be added to the salary grids:

Step 8B $ 500. Upon completion of 15 years of teaching service
Step 9 $1,000. Upon completion of 20 years of teaching service
Step 9B $1,500. Upon completion of 25 years of teaching service
Step 10 $2,000. Upon completion of 30 years of teaching service
Step 10B $2,500. Upon completion of 35 years of teaching service

Effective July 1, 2013, there shall be a 2.5% salary increase to all steps and lanes.

4.5% in Step increases is a pretty expensive additional cost to the city. In addition Teacher’s get 15 Sick days with unlimited carry-over capacity and the ability to buy back sick days yearly.

How many of us in the private sector get more than 5 with NO carry-over possible?

The hours that teachers work haven’t changed much since the late 1990’s and have carried over from contract to contract.

Effective with the 1998-1999 school year, elementary teacher time shall be six (6) hours and twenty-five (25) minutes per day. Five minutes shall be beyond the student day and shall be assigned time.

Middle and high school teacher time shall be six (6) hours and fifty-five (55) minutes per day Effective with the 1998-1999 school year, the fifteen (15) unassigned minutes beyond the student dismissal time will be converted to teaching time and the workday of teachers will be extended ten (10) minutes consisting of five (5) minutes of teaching time and five (5) minutes of assigned time after student dismissal time.

Any further increases in teaching time beyond the twenty (20) minutes will be subject to negotiation. Therefore, effective with the 1998-1999 school year, teachers shall be required to attend six (6) after school faculty meetings per school year.

Effective with the 2006-2007 school year, teachers shall be required to attend nine (9) after school faculty meetings per school year. Effective September 1, 2007, teachers will attend an additional parent teacher meeting. This additional meeting will be scheduled for a duration of one hour and will be scheduled within fifteen minutes of the usual school day, as determined by the principal.

In addition we are giving the Union VP full benefits and half pay because the Pres. is retired!

At the option of the UTL and with reasonable notice to the Committee, either the UTL President or UTL Vice President shall receive half-time leave with half-time pay and full benefits. This provision allowing for the UTL Vice President in lieu of the President to receive half-time pay and full benefits shall expire on June 30, 2014. If the UTL desires to continue such a provision allowing the UTL Vice President in lieu of the President to receive half-time pay and full benefits, the UTL must negotiate said provision into the successor agreement.

Paul Georges, teacher’s union President will argue the numbers and try to say they are incorrect or mis-interpreted. I’ll call your attention to an old saying used by many but one I’ll attribute to Carroll D. Wright , a prominent statistician employed by the U.S. government who in 1889 while addressing the Convention of Commissioners of Bureaus of Statistics of Labor stated:

The old saying is that “figures will not lie,” but a new saying is “liars will figure.” It is our duty, as practical statisticians, to prevent the liar from figuring; in other words, to prevent him from perverting the truth, in the interest of some theory he wishes to establish.

Based on the numbers in these articles and available on-line, I’ll hold these to be as accurate has any Paul tries to spew!

The median Household income in Lowell in 2012 according to the City-Data website:

Estimated median household income in 2012: $45,271 (it was $39,192 in 2000)

The median teacher salary among Massachusetts school districts was about $69,000 in 2013, versus $61,000 five years earlier. In 2013 roughly two out of every three Massachusetts school districts saw average teacher pay increase from 2012’s levels.
All but 20 districts have seen average teacher pay increase since 2008.

If you look at the numbers below, Lowell is pretty comparable salary wise with Boston who has many more students and schools Lowell is higher than Fall River and Springfield and lower than Worcester and Brockton. This information comes directly from the Mass State Website District Profiles.

# of Students in 2013
BOSTON 54, 412
Lowell 14,075
Fall River 10,246
Brockton 17,186
Worcester 25,254
Springfield 25,645

Can and should Lowell look at a tax increase to pay for the cost of raises? Should we consider charging students bus or athletic fees? (Next post will discuss), is it time to charge for full day Kindergarten?

What programs or positions should be cut? Can we have discipline in our schools without Asst. Principals? How much do we spend on advisors and coaches? Is it time to eliminate those items?

Is it time we adhere to the words of former State Senator Steve Panagiotakos who told us a few years ago that “The private sector can no longer afford the public sector”.

School Committee candidates need to start addressing some of these issues so the people know what to expect of them.

The following Salary and District Information comes from the Boston Business Journal:

School District LOWELL
Average Salary – 2013 $78,852
2013 Statewide Rank 41
Average Salary – 2012 $76,197
2012 Statewide Rank 57
Average Salary – 2008 $69,387
Salary Change – 1 year 3%
Salary Change – 5 year 14%

DISTRICT EMPLOYMENT
Total Teachers – 2013 984
Total Teachers – 2012 972
Total Teachers – 2008 1,085
Change in Teachers – 1 year (%) 12
Change in Teachers – 5 year (%) -101

School District BOSTON
Average Salary – 2013 $79,263
2013 Statewide Rank 35
Average Salary – 2012 $81,963
2012 Statewide Rank 20
Average Salary – 2008 $76,108
Salary Change – 1 year -3%
Salary Change – 5 year 4%

DISTRICT EMPLOYMENT
Total Teachers – 2013 4,592
Total Teachers – 2012 4,261
Total Teachers – 2008 4,372
Change in Teachers – 1 year (%) 330
Change in Teachers – 5 year (%) 220

School District FALL RIVER
Average Salary – 2013 $66,138
2013 Statewide Rank 236
Average Salary – 2012 $67,069
2012 Statewide Rank 194
Average Salary – 2008 $63,381
Salary Change – 1 year -1%
Salary Change – 5 year 4%

DISTRICT EMPLOYMENT
Total Teachers – 2013 735
Total Teachers – 2012 720
Total Teachers – 2008 788
Change in Teachers – 1 year (%) 15
Change in Teachers – 5 year (%) -53

School District SPRINGFIELD
Average Salary – 2013 $58,693
2013 Statewide Rank 303
Average Salary – 2012 $57,127
2012 Statewide Rank 307
Average Salary – 2008 $55,505
Salary Change – 1 year 3%
Salary Change – 5 year 6%

DISTRICT EMPLOYMENT
Total Teachers – 2013 2,119
Total Teachers – 2012 2,078
Total Teachers – 2008 2,208
Change in Teachers – 1 year (%) 41
Change in Teachers – 5 year (%) -89

School District BROCKTON
Average Salary – 2013 $82,841
2013 Statewide Rank 22
Average Salary – 2012 $77,804
2012 Statewide Rank 43
Average Salary – 2008 $64,315
Salary Change – 1 year 6%
Salary Change – 5 year 29%

DISTRICT EMPLOYMENT
Total Teachers – 2013 1,064
Total Teachers – 2012 1,088
Total Teachers – 2008 1,125
Change in Teachers – 1 year (%) -24
Change in Teachers – 5 year (%) -60

School District WORCESTER
Average Salary – 2013 $91,504
2013 Statewide Rank 4
Average Salary – 2012 $89,065
2012 Statewide Rank 5
Average Salary – 2008 $70,106
Salary Change – 1 year 3%
Salary Change – 5 year 31%

DISTRICT EMPLOYMENT
Total Teachers – 2013 1,581
Total Teachers – 2012 1,584
Total Teachers – 2008 1,880
Change in Teachers – 1 year (%) -3
Change in Teachers – 5 year (%) -299

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