UTL and School Committee must sit down face to face..is it time to look at Fees?

FEES

The teachers union wants a raise, so does the support staff. The Lowell School Committee Must have some concessions or changes they want to make.

The only way anything will get done is to meet face to face to talk. BOTH sides claims the other has stalled or cancelled meetings. ENOUGH!

Stop playing the blame game and meet July 21st face to face and get this deal don.

IF has reported in today’s Sun the city has offered a 2.5% increase over two years that is a fair offer. What we don’t know is what concessions the Committee is asking for.

IF today’s Sun report of the union wanting a 12% raise over three years, that seems excess.

According to a Sun story from May of this year, approx. employee salaries for the fiscal year 2015/2016 school year,includes $73.7 million for teachers, $11.4 for administrators and $8.85 for paraprofessionals out of an $154,368,116 over all budget. (Over 60% of the entire budget is Salaries)

Most of us who work for a living think we deserve a raise. What we do is valuable to the company. In the case of teachers and support staff there is no doubt that they serves a vital role in the community.

The Union made concessions a few years ago and joined the GIC for health insurance. We are told by the City Manager that both 2015 and the forecast for 2016 show’s a decrease in cost for health insurance when most of us are not only seeing a rise in cost, like the teacher’s and support staff we are seeing a rise in deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses.

Did that savings reach the rank and file? Has anyone asked?

So how do we find more revenue to support giving the teachers and support staff even a .5% raise which would be approx. $600,000?

Have we reached a point that maybe Lowell has to take a step back and look at instituting fees for Clubs, Music/Theater , Athletics and busing? How many of the 14,000 students enrolled in the public school system actually take part in these program and what is the overall cost?

Take a look at most of the surrounding communities in the Merrimack Valley, many have fee’s. If the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, than shouldn’t we look at any and all ways to generate monies to help offset the operations of these specialized programs?

Kids pay fees for local baseball, Pop Warner Football, private swim, wrestling and baseball clubs. Even your neighborhood churches charge a fee for CCD classes. If we need to increase taxes to pay for salary increases, shouldn’t we first look at what is vital and what can be at least partly paid for by the people using the service to subsidize it?

Haverhill Mass charges $100 per sport with a $600 family Max and if a student receives free lunch the fee is waived if they receive a reduced lunch the fee is halved.

Without even looking at the cost of busing (future Post) here is what some of the neighboring communities charge in fees for sports and clubs.

Tewksbury- $150 Fee NO Cap
Dracut – $150 per sport , $900 Cap
Billerica – $150 Fam Max at $600

Tyngsboro has a layered system – Middle School: 1st Sport $200 / 2nd Sport $175 / 3rd Sport $150
High School: 1st Sport $300 / 2nd Sport $200 / 3rd Sport $100

Boston nor Brockton or Worcester charge any fee’s at the moment.

Interestingly Newton which is a pretty wealthy community has a very structured Fee Schedule

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Did this school Committee get together before contract talks began and form a united front and agree on what they wanted in this contract? Is the Mayor who has NOT voted for many union contracts the past few years dragging down the process? Is the personal infighting among these members dragging down the process?