Though shrouded in the overly formal language of district documents, new amendments to the proposed 2010-’11 Milwaukee Public Schools budget signal an ultimatum to unions from the Milwaukee School Board: Accept changes to your health care and be open to a furlough, or watch your colleagues be laid off next year.
In a Strategic Planning and Budget Committee meeting Thursday night that carried into Friday morning, the board got its first chance to discuss and act on amendments to the administration’s proposed $1.3 billion budget, which calls for an estimated 150 to 200 teacher layoffs and hundreds of other staff job eliminations.
Amendments that direct changes to the health-care plan and the implementation of furloughs would require an agreement with labor unions that represent certain employees. But the board’s amendments could set the ball in motion for those discussions.
One of those included restoring about a third of the positions set to be eliminated for teachers, paraprofessionals and general education aides, but only if those bargaining units – namely, the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association – agree to accept the less expensive health care plan.
This is not a new topic. Some elements of the Madison School District have sought similar changes.