Thursday, November 01, 2007

I should take credit for this

The Waukesha school board has taken the first step to going to arbitration with the teachers' union over the new contract. This was one of the cost-saving measures I pushed in a column a couple of weeks ago.

If the school district wants to restore its credibility with the taxpayers after needlessly scaring parents into believing all extracurricular activities were going to be cut, here are some suggestions.

The school district could start by pressing for concessions from the union to increase the number of "steps" in the pay table, putting it back in line with neighboring districts. Thirty-five percent of the district’s teachers are at the top of the current scale. In addition, the school district should also press for concessions on employee health benefits and co-pays.

If the union doesn’t cooperate, the district should take them to arbitration. The district would be following the advice of the state association of school boards which suggests going to arbitration rather than continuing to lay off teachers and cutting programs.
The Waukesha Taxpayers League has been pushing the school board to do the same thing, and they restate their position in a press release:
The Waukesha Taxpayers League today released the following statement by WTL President Chris Lufter regarding the decision by the Waukesha School District to pursue arbitration after 17 months of negotiations with the Education Association of Waukesha:

"We applaud the Waukesha School Board for refusing to simply rubber-stamp the WEAC agenda of Rolls Royce benefits for teachers and ever-higher taxes for our citizens, and instead pursue arbitration in an effort to bring Waukesha into line with other school districts in this area. The Waukesha Taxpayers League has consistently called for meaningful concessions by the teachers union on issues such as the salary schedule, health benefits and overall compensation, and we are glad to see the School Board following suit," commented Lufter. “We fully support the School Board of Waukesha in their decision to go to arbitration over the salary schedule, insurance benefits (copays and contributions towards premiums) and the overall pay package. The students of this district and the taxpayers deserve nothing less.”

We wish to remind the community that the school board and the Education Association of Waukesha have not used a QEO for years but rather a 3.8% package that has allowed many teachers to receive double digit salary increases in one year, year after year.

In addition, by not following a true QEO, the school board has been unsuccessful reducing health insurance and retirement benefit costs. These additional costs have been funded by reducing programs that affect our children’s education.

For details regarding this situation, please go to
Waukesha Forward, an education spending advocacy group, also agrees, as reported in today's Waukesha Freeman.

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