In the summer of 2002, more than half of Wisconsin’s school districts had been without teacher contracts for over a year. This summer, contract negotiations are being settled in as little as 15 minutes.
“I mean really, what’s there to talk about?” said Christina Brey, spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state’s largest teachers union.
Brey said it is still a bit too early to establish an average. But negotiations are going quickly for the most part, according to Barry Forbes, associate executive director of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards.
Under Act 10, only changes to base wages – defined as salary paid based on seniority, not educational attainment – are subject to collective bargaining, and those conversations are limited to a cost-of-living increase set by the Department of Revenue.
For the 2011-’12 school year, the maximum cost-of-living increase was 1.64%. Because the rules defining base wages were set in late March, many districts are now negotiating contracts for the 2011-’12 year. Once districts finish those negotiations, they can move on to the 2012-’13 year. For contracts beginning July 1, 2012, the maximum increase will be 3.16%.