Confirmation of MMSD’s bargaining give aways

Roger Price provided a copy of the 2007 Voluntary Impasse Resolution Procedure agreement between the MMSD and MTI.
As reported earlier, if the MMSD and MTI go to arbitration, the MMSD agrees not make a final offer that would modify health insurance benefits for teachers or change the salary structure, which offers new teachers a starting salary of $23,000, a salary lamented by Marj Passman in her interview on WORT.
The agreement duplicates the 2005 agreement, as discussed here.

20 thoughts on “Confirmation of MMSD’s bargaining give aways”

  1. The $23k figure is not accurate. It’s $32,242 per the 2006-2007 agreement.

  2. Here’s the exact quote from Marj:
    “We’re going to have a harder time recruiting any teacher in the future. . . . We have the lowest starting salary per teacher in the entire country, Madison schools — $23,000 some odd dollars as a starting salary. Now if I was coming out of a college and I owed money and I had debts, why would I take a job with a salary of that? If I were a single parent, that would put me close to the poverty level.”
    Of course, Marj offered no solutions to low teacher salaries.
    If elected, could we safely assume that she’ll vote against the union’s demand to preserve the salary schedule that keeps starting salaries low? Could we expect her to push for higher salaries for starting teachers during those negotiations?
    Marj, tell us what you plan to do if elected.

  3. Dude, you’re jumping at shadows here. Marj Passman, like so many before her, don’t even read this tripe. This is just too funny! Call her on this invention called a telephone and ask her, THEN report back to us. Better yet, actually attend a candidates forum and ask the candidates. This blog has become, for better or worse, a one-sided dialogue. Even Maya Cole, Rick Thomas and Beth Moss don’t post in this forum. I can’t blame them Ed, can you? It’s a pity too, as it held such promise for a while.

  4. I sent Marj an e-mail about renouncing Phoney Tony Casteneda’s divisive remarks, but she hasn’t answered, David.
    I’ll send her another on the salary issue, and I won’t get an answer on that one either.
    I might not make it to any forums, so would you ask her about these two issues for me, David?

  5. Here’s my e-mail to Marj:
    Sorry to bother you, but David Cohen suggested that I ask you directly instead of just posting on
    Here’s the issue. In your interview with Tony Casteneda, you said:
    “We’re going to have a harder time recruiting any teacher in the future. . . . We have the lowest starting salary per teacher in the entire country, Madison schools — $23,000 some odd dollars as a starting salary. Now if I was coming out of a college and I owed money and I had debts, why would I take a job with a salary of that? If I were a single parent, that would put me close to the poverty level.”
    David then posted:
    “The $23k figure is not accurate. It’s $32,242 per the 2006-2007 agreement.”
    Then Larry Winkler posted the following:
    “For your interest, I’ve uploaded the 2003-2004 AFT Beginning Teacher Salary at
    In 2003-4 Wisconsin was ranked 50th in the beginning teacher salaries, with a salary of $23,952. That’s Wisconsin, not Madison.
    The average Wisconsin teacher salary in 2003-2004 was $41,687.”
    Since you offered no solutions on beginning salaries during the interview, I wondered on the blog what you’d do if elected.
    I asked:
    “If elected, could we safely assume that she’ll vote against the union’s demand to preserve the salary schedule that keeps starting salaries low? Could we expect her to push for higher salaries for starting teachers during those negotiations?”
    I hope that you’ll post your responses on
    Ed Blume

  6. David, still fulfills exactly what it was intended to achieve — provide an open forum for dicussion of any and all issues.
    For example, Joan Knoebel’s recent questions about special ed certainly need to be discussed, because they aren’t being discussed any where else.
    Ditto on Laurie Frost’s persistence on TAG and the dumbing down of the MMSD curriculum.
    Additionally, Barb Schrank effectively used this blog to win board approval of a task force to look at fine arts education.

  7. FWIW, I’ve sent this question to Marj twice, once in December and once about a month ago (after I asked the question at a coffee and she avoided giving a substantive answer). I have yet to hear back from her. Frankly, I can’t help but think that that says something important about her, and what kind of BOE member she would be.
    The question is this: “Marj, Can you please state — clearly and simply — your position on the educational approach of offering core courses delivered in completely heterogeneous classes (that is, without any opportunity for self-selected ability-grouping in the form of advanced, TAG or honors classes) for our high school freshmen and sophomores? A really clear explanation of your views on this important topic would be appreciated by many (including me).”
    Also, for the record, yes, I have graciously accepted the responsibility of leading the way here and elsewhere, in terms of educating anyone who is interested about the needs of high ability, high potential learners. Most of the time I enjoy the challenge of being “cheerfully persistent,” to use Jan Davisdson’s delightful phrase, and I appreciate the appreciation that Ed and many others have shown me for my efforts. But as I said to Carol Carstensen several years ago, what I really want more than anything is to not have to do all of that stuff, so that I can return to what I was doing in my kids’ schools before the painful reality that their educational needs were not being met forced me to switch paths. What was I doing? Well, I was involved in a wide range of diversity, outreach and community building activities in the Franklin-Randall community. One of the reasons why I am so interested in giftedness in students of color and poverty is that it brings together so many of my concerns, passions and areas of expertise. But the fact is, although I don’t say much about it out loud, I couldn’t agree more with Ed’s pushing on the notion that “we cannot rest until every child in our community reads at grade level by the end of the third grade.”
    I spent three hours at a Mexican baby shower down in Bay View today. (My gift? Why, board books, of course!) What a happy time it was! That kind of joy transcends language barriers. … We have a saying in my religious tradition that “with each child, the world begins anew.” I thought a lot about that as I drove home, and it gave me hope.

  8. Ed, I’m all for free speech. Without it, we’d never know what the fringe elements have up their collective sleeves!

  9. For a better comparison those salaries should be annualized. How many months per year are teachers required to work?

  10. Now ed, I would not allow students in my classroom to call each other names, I will not allow it here as well. Now that that is out of the way. I am one of those teachers who actually agree with Ruth, Laurie and Lucy. I think that we should trade better health care for better pay. This way when I get a raise each year, it will be on my higher salary. The district has gotten away with not increasing my salary over the last ten years. Increases in my health care costs does not compound annually on top of the salary structure. I figure that I would personally would have made more than 10,000 more per year had we negotiated salaries over health care. This, of course, compounds annually, so by the time I retire, I would be making a decent salary. As it is now, I spend 100’s of my own money on classroom materials. I have trouble making the rent each month. I need to work a second job as a server at a restaurant. I keep this job because it is flexible during the summer when I am taking classes. So I will gamble on the idea that I will not get seriously ill and need to have more flexibility in my health care choices in exchange for not having to live hand to mouth. I hope that I will make enough money to make up the difference. How expensive can it be if I get cancer?

  11. People keep talking about the trade off between “better health care or better salaries”…..and I’m just curious….is WPS coverage that much “better” than some of the other plans that are available….or is it just more expensive? Just because it costs more doesn’t necessarily mean the coverage is better. I guess that is what I’m most concerned about…is the district really getting its money worth paying for WPS? Maybe the things that teachers like about WPS could be found somewhere else at less cost, so salaries could be increased. Since health insurance is such a big chunk of the budget, this will have to be dealt with at some point….by a future Board I guess.

  12. It will not save the district any money. It is penny wise and pound foolish. Without going through arbitration, we get the same percentage in salary and benefits. Teachers have chosen to use the percentage to offer two different health care plans. WPS is more expensive. Teachers pay a larger premium to be able to choose their own medical professionals. Benefits are not part of the wage structure. It will eventually cost the district more money in the long run when the wages are bumped up with the minimal savings of getting rid of a choice in health care. So, when teachers are laid-off (due to the real problem, the QEO) it will be those new teachers who are on the chopping block first. People are using our health insurance as a political football and diversion to the real problem-the QEO.

  13. Teachert(truth):
    Do you really mean the QEO? Don’t you mean the revenue caps? Wouldn’t a lifting of the QEO only exacerbate MMSD’s budget dilemma?
    To suggest that MMSD can’t realize some long-term health-care savings is, I think, naive. Benefits ARE part of the wage package — look at the language of the QEO law. To cite one example, does every single MMSD employee pay a small percentage — say even 2 percent — of the premium cost of their health-insurance plan (as is the case in many, many other places of employment — private for-profit, non-profit, and public sector)? If they don’t, then it seems reasonable for those here on SIS to wonder why MMSD can’t somehow rein in health care costs.

  14. Jill,
    The WPS coverage really is better than GHC, largely because subscribers can choose their own providers and not be limited to those in an HMO system. With regard to mental health coverage (that’s the area I know the most about), the benefits are also much more generous (which I, personally, believe our teachers need and deserve). No one “manages the care” except the teacher/client and the provider. The subscriber’s copay goes up over time (within the benefits year) as the number of sessions used (and dollars spent) increases.
    All that said, the Sun Prairie teachers switched from WEA to Dean this year and their mental health coverage, at least, does not appear to have changed. Sun Prairie teachers can still choose their providers and they are not limited to, say, one session a month unless they are suicidal (which is perhaps a somewhat extreme description of what typically happens in our HMO’s). My understanding is that the Sun Prairie district officials talked with the teachers about what sort of coverage they wanted; the teachers made their priorities known (excellent mental health coverage being among them); and the Sun Prairie administration went out and got bids on a plan that met the teachers’ stated needs and priorities. Pretty straightforward, it seems to me.
    Maybe someone else out there knows more.

  15. The only thing I would add to Laurie’s comment is this question.
    When pricing occurs, is it based on the total teacher risk population or do GHC and WPS price based on the risk profiles of their sub-populations?
    When you have two health plans with different levels of benefit, the less well and the older will tend to elect the plan with the better coverage. When that occurs, simple comparisons break down because you paying to insure two populations with different characteristics. This would tend to increase the premium spread.

  16. Thanks, Tim. What you say is probably true, to a large extent. With regard to mental health needs, though, the greater need might actually be within the younger population — newer teachers getting used to the demands and stresses of the job (trying to decide if this is the career for them after all), with younger children at home to raise, etc. I have lost a few younger MMSD employees to GHC in the past couple of years. They have made the switch pretty reluctantly, based only on monetary considerations, and with full understanding of the quality of care they were giving up. That’s not a statement about GHC, by the way; only a statement about what’s different between an HMO and a non-HMO plan.

  17. “Adverse selection” is indeed given as a reason for the WPS plan being higher. It is not really disputed, although no evidence is given, either, that the older/sicker population chooses WPS over GHC. That said, the premium difference is almost 100% at this point. MTI asked WPS a few years ago how much lower premiums would be if the younger/well population bought in, and WPS said, “7% lower.” Thus, adverse selection can only account for a small difference in the premiums. I believe the differences are mostly due to WPS being a profit-driven, administration-heavy business, and that WPS enables out-of-state access to non-emergency care, which skyrockets the paperwork costs. Finally, I believe the WPS service encourages overconsumption of healthcare: acupuncture, multiple referrals, buying prescriptions based on advertising, etc.
    I think the state-employee insurance ought to be good enough for teachers. We’ve traded salary for health insurance for too long. Really, though, this needs to be a federal issue. This country spends a ridiculous amount of money on healthcare, but gets little for it in the way of wellness.

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