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December 13, 2009

With Wisconsin's QEO Gone, schools bargain harder on teachers' contracts

Amy Hetzner:

So far this school year, the approximately 100 school districts that have reached agreements with their teachers have average settlements that increase salaries and benefits by 3.75%, according to Bob Butler, staff counsel for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards. That compares with an average total compensation increase of 4.11% for teachers in the 2008-'09 school year.

Given that settlements tend to go down the longer negotiations take, Butler said the average increases for 2009-'10 and 2010-'11 are likely to be below what they have been in the past and what was considered a minimum settlement under the QEO law.

The recession, even in growing and financially stable districts, is the main reason behind the settlement drops, Butler said. Even though the Legislature removed the QEO salary restrictions, it left revenue limits in place so that any increase in teacher compensation almost certainly means staff cuts, he said.

In addition, facing pressure from taxpayers, some school districts, such as Whitnall, refused to enact a tax levy up to their state-imposed revenue limits this year.

"We have seen such a drastic reduction in the amount of money we have coming in from the state, it would have been hard to settle at 3.8% even if the QEO still stood there," Whitnall School Board President Bill Osterndorf said.

Related, 9/25/2009: Madison School District & Madison Teachers Union Reach Tentative Agreement: 3.93% Increase Year 1, 3.99% Year 2; Base Rate $33,242 Year 1, $33,575 Year 2: Requires 50% MTI 4K Members and will "Review the content and frequency of report cards".

Posted by Jim Zellmer at December 13, 2009 7:59 AM
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