|The BTU and the BPS agreed a few weeks ago to try to ‘tone it down’ in public back and forths, specifically on the negotiations process. Well, we held a demonstration last week, and we guess the district felt obligated to come up with a counter to our demonstration. Fair enough, and we have no problem with that. But, frankly, we expect a bit more in the way of accuracy in their pronouncements.We will go over a few verbatim excerpts from this week’s BPS This Week:
Distortion #1, Verbatim from the BPS:
“The BTU has argued teachers must be paid for a longer day at a contractual hourly rate–an additional $41 Million per year..”
When we first read this same allegation a few months ago, we chalked it up to a simple misunderstanding. After all, anyone can make a mistake in math. To properly calculate the total cost of the time is to take the superintendent’s requested 30-minute block of time and multiply by $41 per hour, for 180 days, for 3,000 people, for a total of $11 Million–a long way from $41 million. We have talked to the school district repeatedly about this, but, frankly, it is a waste of our time. The district wants to place an exaggerated calculation on what a 30-minute block of time costs. We’d prefer an accurate calculation.
(Incidentally, above and beyond this 30-minute block of time the superintendent has asked for an additional 3 hours of paid teaching time per DAY.
Distortion #2, verbatim from the BPS:
“BPS has four main priorities in our bargaining package…principals and administrators would have a say in who teaches in their schools…”
We reached a written agreement with the school department on this very topic last week. The agreement is signed and firm. Done. Over. We don’t know why the department continues to raise this issue as a red herring. Our suggestion: the author of BPS this Week ought to sit done and talk with the BPS negotiating team and get caught up to speed.
Distortion #3, verbatim from the BPS
“The (figure) does not include annual step and lane increases, which total an additional $9 Million per year…”
The district repeats this over and over, sometimes saying salary steps (the so-called built-in yearly salary increase) amount to $9 million each year, sometimes going as high as $11 Million. If all teachers stayed in place year after year, steps would cost something approximating $8 million. But people don’t stay. They come and go. They take leaves, they resign, they go out on maternity leave, and they go off to study. When they people do leave, they are replaced by someone who is almost always on a much lower salary step. This saves the district money–lots of money each year. We ran this demographic exercise from school year 09/10 to 10/11 taking into account all of the above. We offset step increases with savings accumulated by replacement teachers. We did the math. The net, bottom, line: From SY 09/10 to SY 10/11, salary steps cost $1 million per year–no more. That’s a ‘1’ not a ’10.’
Distortion #4, verbatim from the BPS
“The BTU has demanded a salary increase of $116.1 million…and has repeatedly insisted that this demand must be met before any other reforms can be agreed to…“
We have spent 35 negotiating sessions and have five more scheduled. In all of these sessions we have talked about a wealth of reforms, e.g., in performance evaluation, staffing, school governance and other areas. We have talked about these reforms even though we have not yet reached an agreement of any sort on salary issues. To say that we are holding reforms hostage to salary demands is a purposeful and shameful distortion that does little to move this conversation forward. We expect better!