In my wildest dreams, I never thought I would say that it is time for this community to support the Waukesha School Board. Currently, the Waukesha School Board and the Education Association of Waukesha are seeking arbitration over the latest contract negotiations due to a $5.7 million dollar discrepancy in salary and benefits between the two sides.
A little history is in order here. The qualified economic offer and revenue caps passed the state Legislature back in the early ’90s due to the ever increasing burden of salaries and Cadillac benefits placed on school district budgets and taxpayers. The QEO was designed to limit salary and benefit increases to 3.8 percent to avoid arbitration. Acknowledging that the QEO and revenue caps (the control on school spending) were out of line, the state Legislature eliminated the QEO. This was to help school boards limit or eliminate budget reductions seen every year.
There are several items in dispute between the EAW and the Waukesha School Board: restoring the insurance back to the WEA Trust (the state teachers-owned health insurance), reinstating and making permanent early retirement language and total compensation calculations.
First, the insurance. Traditionally the district has had to use WEA Trust for the teacher’s Cadillac insurance plan. There were minimal outof-pocket expenses to the employee, no contribution to the cost and a whopping $21,000-plus price tag (family plan). For the 2007-09 contract, the board successfully worked in a premium contribution of $20 for a single plan and $40 for a family plan per month from the employee. In addition, a $250/500 outof-pocket was added. The current school board proposal is looking to change this in the new contract to $500 single/$1000 family and a 10 percent premium contribution. These changes reflect what is really happening in the private sector today.