As September grows closer, it appears less likely that the school department will excess the 24 individuals it had intended to. Two weeks ago, we alerted you that the school department had told the BTU in formal negotiations that it wanted to excess as many as 24 teachers and paras from five Level 4 schools (Agassiz Elem., Dearborn MS, E Greenwood Elem., Holland Elem., and English High School). For whatever reason, the school department has apparently had second thoughts. Good idea.
On the matter of our 12 Level 4 schools, the school department last week received a $22.5 million grant for 10 of these schools. Congratulations to the school department. The grant will be doled out over the next three years* and is to be used to pay for the 190+** hours of forced teacher*** overtime and other sundry items, as called for by the superintendent. Accolades aside, the soon-to-be-received funding is three to five times greater than what the school department has told the state it needed to pay the teachers for the additional, required work. In other words, the school department is making big money and taking clear advantage of the Ed Reform law as it exploits our members. Long story short, the school department is profiteering. Let’s do the math.
When the school department asked the state to approve its plan to pay teachers $4100 for 190+ hours of forced overtime, it complained vociferously that it had no money to pay people more. We cannot afford to pay these folks more than $21.50 per hour ($15.00 for those for whom ELL training is mandated). We are stretched to the limit, the department declared, even though it knew it was about to receive a large sum of money in the near future. So how less-than-forthcoming was the school department?
The school department received $22.5 million for the next three years for the 10 schools; that’s $7.5 million per year. There are 480 teachers in all 12 schools, or approximately 400 in the 10 schools. Ok, $7.5 million for 400 teachers per year. That’s $18,750 per teacher per year– more than four times the stipend of $4100.
Let’s be reasonable, you say… Let’s assume that the school department will hire a reading specialist and a social worker or a psychologist/counselor for each underperforming school, which would bring the $7.5 million down to somewhere north of $5 million. Those are all good ideas. But, even with that, the school department still ends up with more than enough surplus cash to pay teachers an appropriate, fair wage. Actually, the department could hire three(!) additional personnel per school or more. The truth is, the school department’s wage costs in those ten schools will cost the department no more than $1.6 million–a far cry from the $7.5 million they’ll be receiving from the Federal government.
The department will dress it up, talk about adding resources, adding personnel, and the like. But when you look at this in its simplest, stark reality, the department is exploiting our members, plain and simple. When you strip away all the noise, the school department, the fed’s,and the state have colluded to take advantage of a law designed to run roughshod over collective bargaining.
Incidentally, as part of this grant, the school sought and received $1.7 million for “administration costs.” The other grant-winning communities did not seek reimbursement for these particular costs.
Bottom Line: With this financial windfall, the school department could add professional staff to all of these schools, increase resources at each of these schools, double or triple the stipend in order to fairly pay staff, and even turn the heat up a degree or two. And it would still have money left over to hire a few more bureaucrats. Governor Patrick–Is this what you meant by leveling the playing field and doing the right thing?
(*) Technically, the grant is funded one year at a time, for three years.
(**) for many people, the forced overtime is closer to 273 hours, as some
(perhaps one-third of the staff) have yet to complete the category level training in ESL. Either way, $4100 stipend for anywhere from 190 hours to 273 hours of work is well below the teacher hourly contractual rate of $41.)
(***) no overtime is required of paraprofessionals)