Here is a portion of a press release from the Education Action Group Foundation with a different point of view as to why the school district is choosing to lay off teachers.

Broward County Public Schools’ excessive union
contracts –not state lawmakers—deserve blame for 1,400 teacher layoffs

District is saddled with 7 separate unions, 748 pages of contracts
that drain resources away from students

When Broward County Public Schools issued 1,400 teacher layoff notices earlier this
week, Superintendent Jim Notter blamed state lawmakers for not adequately funding
public education.

In reality, BCPS’ financial woes are caused by the district itself. According to the BCPS website, nearly every adult school employee belongs to a union, and is paid according to a collectively-bargained pay schedule.

Collectively, these union contracts suffocate the district with 748 pages of rules, regulations, salary requirements and benefits. There can be little wonder why the district is looking at a $144 million deficit.

Without a doubt, this expensive union labor is driving up labor costs, and played a huge role in the decision to oust 1,400 teachers.

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While I consider the press release somewhat biased, there is a ring of truth in the analysis.

There’s no denying the fact that seven unions are consuming more than their fair share of the district’s ever shrinking resources.

Never forget the immortal words of the late American Federation of Teachers President Albert Shanker; “We’ll start worrying about school children when they start paying union dues.”

Between unlimited accumulation of sick days and unlimited accumulation of vacation days, upwards of $60 million dollars per year are being sucked out of the classroom.

School Board employees also get free health care, costing around $170 million per year.

Add another $810,000 per year in free health care cafeteria benefits.(Meaning the employee gets to choose which benefits to spend it with.)

If $100 per month were kicked in by each employee, it would put $30 million back into the classroom.

By the way, that 40% increase in premiums you’ve been hammered with last year were only for family members (the employee still got free coverage) and was only for the more expensive PPO policy.  HMO members saw only a small increase.

The “temporary” 90 day waiver of healthcare coverage “give back” offered by BTU for new employees is an empty one since the district is not hiring.  The value is essentially zero.

Six of the seven unions are more than content to sit back and let the teachers union do their negotiating under the “me too” clauses.

All along this year, BTU has refused to negotiate in good faith with comparatively worthless give backs only “temporary.”

Between their demand for a “step” movement that would once again screw junior teachers and offering to give back the first 90 days of health care coverage to a district that’s not hiring, the contract negotiations have been little more than a sham.

And now the shameless posturing stands to blow off the $35 – $58 million (depending on which side is telling the tale) in Race to the top money.

The Race to the top money is the Federal money provided for teacher performance incentives and enhancing technology in the classroom.

Only the district can kiss that goodbye.

As I’ve said, BTU’s real interest is protecting teacher pay scales and the outrageous benefits.

The children come second.


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