Saturday, February 02, 2008

A Really Good Question

This question is in response to my most-recent post Reduces Spending. The question was this:
How do you figure teachers are getting a 7% increase in pay?
Here is my response:

One: Good point. I rounded, that's why I used the qualifier "almost." I will change the post to the actual percentage of 6.5%.

Two: Keep in mind I do not refer to teachers only, but staff. I use the readily available numbers so that readers can verify for themselves. I would guess that the average teacher increase is higher than the 6.5% noted above.

Three: Teachers have three salary components; the
negotiated increase that is reported in the papers, the step increase for additional years of experience (note that there are not step increases in every year), plus the education increase when teachers meet certain thresholds of additional post-graduate education hours. (note: These hours can include simple online course work that is not even close to their actual area of classroom instruction. The same as a computer programmer taking a real estate course and expecting a salary increase.)

Four: How can you verify my numbers? Look at the district's
Five-Year Financial Forecast. On page 6, you will find a brief explanation of the three components with their assumed increases (other than the negotiated increase of 2.75%). On page 7, you will find a chart with the salary components. Add the three components above (do not add in the New Staffing piece) and divide by the base wage value. The result is 6.5%.

Five: An additional check. Call the treasurer and ask what the budgeted increases are for the three components. She will give the answer in no time.

Six: Or, look at the union contracts on the district's website and see how salaries can advance. Pick a
teacher with (say) 10 years experience and a masters degree. Now, move the teacher to 11 years with a master plus 15, the result is a 9.8% salary increase (remember to include the assumed negotiated increase of 2.75% to the value in the current contract).



Anonymous said...

So...what does the typical teacher's total compensation look like? I know they get a good deal on their healthcare and the district funds their retirement at a larger amount than you'll find in the private sector. But what are the details behind this? The actual rates/amounts?

Anonymous said...

This 6.5% increase you discuss assumes that teachers get a step increase, though not all of them do, and also that they earn additional credits each year, which I can only assume that not all teachers do. You also don't mention that the state now requires (and has for a while) all new teachers to earn their master's degrees within a certain time frame, which is why many of them are taking courses. In reality, it doesn't appear that one can extrapolate these figures to the "average" teacher because both of these scenarios will not apply to all or even most of them. Based on what you wrote, it appears that numerous scenarios can play out. Teachers may earn only the increase of 2.75% without the education or step increases. They may also earn the 2.75% and a step increase without the education increase, they may get all three or they may not get anything at all depending on their contract. You didn't mention if the 2.75% negotiated raise occurs each year of a multiple-year contract or even if the contracts are mulitple-year contracts, which could be misleading.
Your comments about the raises and about the kind of credits earned appears to be the type of "spin" that you dislike and often refer to the district as using. Through these comments you appear to be attempting to discredit teachers in general, though many teachers, it would seem, are working toward master's degrees and that is where many of their education hours would come from, not just through unrelated online courses.
My three kids have been receiving an excellent education in this district for years (at all three levels), are achieving extremely well and have had a range of teachers from veteran to brand new. I take the time to get to know their teachers well to know who is educating my children. Between my three children, they have had dozens of teachers, and based on what I hear and see from my kids and their friends and those friends' parents, the teachers earn their wages and their raises just as much as anyone does. Though I am sure there are some teachers who are more effective than others, the same can be said of any profession.
I am sure there is not a teacher, administrator, custodian, bus driver, cook, or anyone else in the Olentangy system or any other school system who doesn't wish that Ohio schools were funded differently to avoid having to go to the public for a vote to increase taxes in order for them to get an increase that any private employee would hope to receive in his or her job. A lot of the school employees live in the district, so they are, in essence, helping to pay themselves their own wages through their taxes.
Though you are clearly passionate about the causes and issues you support, which is admirable because so many people are simply apathetic, it doesn't seem quite right to paint everyone in a large school system with such broad brush strokes.

Jim Fedako said...

Let me be gentle here:

I never imply that there is an "average teacher." Such is statistical nonsense. The phrase "average teacher" must always be a qualifier of some other noun, such as salary and/or increase.

Similarly, there is no average house, since you always have to ask, "Average to what?" Size, rooms, price, etc.

Alternatively, one can state average teacher increase, or the average increase for teachers. But, again, there is no such entity as an average teacher receiving something.

That is important as I do not imply some ideal-type teacher. I simply state that the average increase for teachers in Olentangy for FY09 is projected to be 6.5%.

Similarly, one could state that the average increase in the private sector is 3.5% for calendar year 2008.

In both instances, some employees receive more than the average increase, and some less. That is what average implies. Fair enough?

To your next topic: Teachers are unionized, and unions are based on employees who are more or less homogeneous -- other than due to years of experience or some other attribute (education).

Teachers choose to be considered as collectivized union labor, so I treat them as such. Seems reasonable and fair. I am only attributing qualities that they fought for via contracts and laws.

If they want to be treated as individuals, they need to dissolve their union. Fair enough?

Final topic: So a teacher can vote for the levy and get an additional (say) $4500 per year (salary increase minus cost of levy), or vote against the levy and receive only an additional $2300? Hmmm.

Are you telling me that the teacher has to think twice about this option? And, that I am supposed to respect his or her "yes" vote?

Doesn't this simply show that government is just another wealth transfer program? Something to think about.

taxpayer of 3 kids said...

Your information is very enlightening to all of us taxpayers and parents who are not exposed to the realities of the district.
As you are a former board member, what was it within the structure of the Olentangy School Board rules and/or bylaws that impeeded your (or any other board member's)ability to speak out so honestly , in public session?

Keep up the fight...alot of us are with you!

Jim Fedako said...

There is nothing to stop me from speaking before the board. I don't since the newspaper most likely wouldn't report it. And when they do report, they tend to get it wrong -- the OVN couldn't even get the article on the levy straight. I would be wasting an evening appearing before the board. Trust me, they all know where I stand.

I started this blog while on the board because the papers did not report on what I said at the board meetings -- ThisWeek in particular appears to print exactly what the district issues in a media release after the meeting.

I thought this (the blog)would be a more effective means of communicating.

Jim Fedako said...

Anonymous 8:29 AM asks a great follow-up.

I haven't responded as I do not have the most up-to-date healthcare amounts for district employees. I have requested the info from the district treasurer and will post after I receive it. Sorry for the delay.

Anonymous said...

OK ... so what about other expenses? Besides salaries and related stuff, where is money being spent? Has the district reduced costs like the state?

Jim Fedako said...


I will research and post. Your humble servant ;-)