While watching a video of last week’s School Board meeting, online, something happened that set me back.
At the one-hour, seven-minute mark, David Mielke, the Teachers Union president, was there to address the Board about School District salaries.
While he was handing out an L.A. County salary survey and before he could get to the rostrum, Kathy Paspalis set the desired tone for Mr. Mielke’s address.
She chirped in with a well-placed exclamation, “We’ve moved up!”
Mr. Mielke agreed whole-heartedly.
He then went on to praise the District “for setting aside money and sharing it with the teachers. The District has moved teachers up to where their salaries are now competitive.”
But that statement was only partially true. Much of the money used for these past five years to increase employee compensation ($15.9M) came from the District’s Reserve Fund.
The Reserve Fund already had been put aside by previous School Boards years before the five-year salary plan’s inception. Previous members had set aside this money, thinking it should be saved for a rainy day. They assumed that since it was onetime money, it never would be used to pay for ongoing expenditures, such as District salaries.
He pointed out a few examples of success: Beginning teacher salaries were at the median, beginning teachers with a Masters were at the median and the salary for 25-year experience was just above the median.
Health and welfare benefits were right at the median.
After receiving a cumulative 28.3 percent in raises in the past five years, Mr. Mielke had the chutzpah to suggest that the District needed a new five-year plan. This time, to move teachers up to the top tier from their median County ranking.
It sounds as if Mr. Mielke wants teachers to be paid beyond just fairly and with a respectful, competitive salary. Now, he wants his members to be some of the highest paid teachers in L.A. County.
Here It Comes
He went on to lament that this probably couldn’t happen without a new parcel tax.
So it seems there is going to be another parcel tax.
Is the new one going to be used to increase teacher salaries from an already acknowledged respectful, competitive county median, to reaching some of the highest salaries in L.A. County?
Do the Math
According to last year’s J-90 Certificated Salary Survey, the School District’s average salary now stands about $7,750 behind the 12th ranked district. Since last year’s top tier average annual salary increase rose more than 4 percent, our district would have to raise teachers’ compensation a minimum of 6 percent or more each year to have a chance of reaching such a lofty goal.
Measure EE, the 5-year, $99 parcel tax, that passed in 2009, raised about $1.2M each year. That would mean local taxpayers would have to pass a parcel tax that would start out costing double that, about $200.
It would have to increase by over $200 for each of the next four years.
At the end of the Teachers Union’s proposed five-year plan, homeowners would be paying at least a $1,000 annually in support of teachers’ salaries.
That does not even take into account the classified workers’ salaries. We cannot forget about them! They, too, play an important role in our children’s educational experience. Their salary increases would only add more to the homeowners’ cost of the parcel tax.
(To be continued)
Mr. Laase may be contacted at GMLaase@aol.com