Saturday, July 10, 2010

Decatur Education Association Saw Freeze in New Contract

The new Decatur Education Association contract is now posted on the district website. It covers last school year and the next three. During those 4 years, the salary schedule is frozen at the 2008-2009 school year contract levels.

For those unfamiliar with how teachers are paid, there is a chart, which you will find beginning on page 31 of the contract. With each year of teaching, salary goes up. With the attainment of benchmark educational levels, salary goes up. These are called 'step increases' and are zealously regarded as different from 'raises'. Only when the entire schedule increase, does the DEA consider it a raise. This is very different from all other employees in other careers, who pretty uniformly consider any increase in take home pay to be a raise.

So, the step increases remain for all teachers up to 20 years of service and a Masters plus 60 hours of education toward a Doctorate. Salaries range from $37,343 to $77,673. This, of course, does not include additional money awarded for extracurricular activity - supervision of clubs or coaching, for instance. A teacher moving from their first to second year of teaching would see an increase in pay of $1680, while a 19 year teacher transitioning into their 20th year would see an increase of $1120. Beyond 20 years, there is no change due to years of service. A first year teacher who earns a Masters Degree, gains $1240 a year. A 20 year or older teacher who earns a Masters Degree, gains $10,643. The schedule is in the contract for closer examination, if you are interested; again, beginning on page 31.

The district covers 86% of the cost of health and hospital insurance (page 8) for teachers. The new contract has some changes to that for the coming years. There are three levels of insurance plans offered - I, II, and III; with the Plan I level being the most expensive. Beginning with the 2010-2011 school year, a teacher may opt for a Plan I level, but the district will only pay up to 86% of the cost of a Plan II level. In addition, all teacher insurance enrollees will receive a payback of $30 per month (if they get the single plan), $50 per month (if they get the employee/spouse or employee/child plan), or $70 per month (if they get the family plan).

I did some calculations, using the insurance rates from the 2009-2010 school year. If a teacher enrolls in a Plan I level, it will cost $36.48 more per year for the single plan, $237.60 more for the employee/child plan, $285.12 more for the employee/spouse plan, and $176.40 more for the family plan over the costs for this past school year. However, with the additional paybacks, those enrolled in any of the Plan II or Plan III levels will see their insurances costs go down. For those teachers, a single plan will cost $360 less per year, employee/child or employee/spouse plan will cost $600 less, and a family plan will cost $840 less than this past year.

I did a very ballpark calculation, and it looks like roughly -- if more than 3 times as many teachers are enrolled in Plan I level as in the other two levels, the district saves money -- if fewer than 3 times as many teachers are enrolled in Plan I level as in the other two levels, the district loses money. I don't have the figures to know for sure, which case applies.

Other monetary impact items are those related to district contributions to a variety of retirement funds on behalf of the teacher (pages 6-7 and 10-11). Unless I missed something, these contributions add up to 8% of salary in the old contract and for the 2009-2010 school year under the new contract. That drops to 6.5% of salary for the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school year. For the 2012-2013 school year, it rises back to the 8% of salary level.

Along with these retirement fund contributions, the vesting period (the length of time it takes for a teacher to actually 'own' the money in the fund) has been shortened for the 401(a) fund (page 10). In the past, after 10 years a teacher was vested to the tune of 33.3%, after 15 years they were vested to 66.7%, and after 20 years they were vested in 100% of the fund balance. The new contract changes the vesting period to 50% after 5 years and 100% after 10 years of employment. The vesting period for the remaining retirement funds is unchanged from the old contract.

There are some other changes to committees and such, but the monetary changes are represented above.


Anonymous said...

Interesting, I used to think that teachers were underpaid but given that teachers work only for 185 days (5d/wk = 37 weeks), maxing out at 7hrs 55min a day, I no longer feel bad for them.

That's $28.65 an hour.

Anonymous said...

That's $28.65 for a new teacher making 40K.

Anonymous said...

Maxing out at 7 hrs 55min a day...yeah right. THAT'S how it is....I think its interesting that you, anon 7:04 pm, think that teachers MAX out at 7hrs and 55 min a day. Wait...not interesting....foolish. Yes. That is the word I was looking for.

Anonymous said...

anon 7:45:

Teachers are professionals. Like all professionals, the work does not end. Those 7hrs are for teaching time. Teachers do a lot more (grading, lesson plans, creating exercises, etc). Nobody debates that fact.

But, teachers are professionals. Most professionals are not compensated for every hour they spend on their work, at home or work. Teachers are salaried, after all.

Anonymous said...

Those above 20 years are being discriminated against, especially since pension benefits are based on the five highest years salary. Any teacher who retires within the next fives years will see only min. increase in their pension. Too bad teachers can't get a "sweet" deal like the admin's. Even those who took the $15,000. retirement incentive this year don't get "money" as it was added to their health care account....kinda like a volcher, you gotta be sick to get it. If one dies before using the $15,000 there is no money. Hmmm I wonder if the $15,000. was added to their last years salary so their pension is higher?????

Anonymous said...


Tonight is a public meeting of the school board at 7:00 p.m. People who want the board to believe that their work is being "watched" should go to this meeting. It probably will not be a long board meeting and it is important to go to every meeting.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:02:

PREDICTION: 6 people maximum will be in the gallery tonight. Depending on who the Board is honoring, there might be up to 10. So tonights meeting will have no less than 6 and no more than 10.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:04,

Wow, you demonstrate, quite clearly, that you have no idea what it takes to actually serve as a public school teacher. With shrinking staff, strict budgets (that offer no room, by the way, for any sort of "creative" teaching tools), and ever decreasing prep time during those 7 hours 55 mins/day, the average teacher, I would hazard to guess, works a couple hours/day at home or in the classroom once students leave.

In fact, being married to one of those teachers, I would say that's exactly what happens. In no way is my partner complaining about this state, as it comes with the territory, but unknowledgeable people such as yourself ought to keep their mouths shut before assuming. I would also mention that my partner puts in quite a few hours during the weeks of the summer preparing for the coming school year.

Teaching isn't a profession one goes into because it's a cush job, with great vacation time. Teachers also don't teach because of the great salary. Most do it because they love to vocation itself and they care deeply for the kids.

So, before crying and b!@#hing from your soapbox, maybe you ought to really do some digging.

Anonymous said...

Yes, there are days when teachers must do a lot of preparation for their work with students. There are also days when there is minimal contact with students. Teachers are salaried - they are not hourly workers. Some teachers work very hard. Just like some in other professions, some do not work very hard.

The "outlandish" spending practices of the board and superintendent have not been about teachers, per se. Few administrators work as hard or put in as many hours per day as teachers. The teachers do not eat at the expense of taxpayers before board meetings. Teachers do not "hide" behing PR people like Gary. Teachers do "hide" behind the union leaders. Teachers do use "fear" as an excuse for not becoming part of the solution. Administrators seek sympathy rather than taking responsibility for the mess.

More than the weather is hot and sticky.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:52,

As I consider how to respond, seeing as you saw fit to turn the discussion into universal accusations which cannot be proven, well, universally, i can't but think those who comment on this blog would rather b!$@h than participate in the solution. I can tell, again as someone whose partner is a teacher, that most teachers aren't hiding behind anyone--board or union alike. In fact, most teachers with whom I have contact work their butts off simply to honor the responsibility they have to the kids in their care. As far as I've experienced it, the parents of most students bear a brunt of the responsibility. In fact, I would hazard to guess that most teachers, at least those dedicated to what they do, are often hindered in their efforts by the negligent and downright suspect parental non-involvement.

The problem is, as I alluded to in my previous comment at 3:17pm, that most people would like to criticize from without or from the position of one of those parents of which I speak rather than participate in their child's education or work towards macro solutions. Don't worry. As someone else in a serving profession, I expect this, as it seems embedded in the human condition--i.e., a propensity to gripe and offer hollow sentiments rather than role up one's sleeves and actually get involved. the reason for this, in my assessment, is because one doesn't have to risk anything while anonymously commenting on a blog.

Sadly, this benefits no one--student or teacher. But, that's the America way, isn't it--we've made no cost, non-involvement, critical spirits an art form As long as there's a scapegoat--in this case, teachers seem to be serving this purpose--this kind of crap will never end.

The Teacher's Spouse

Springer Guest said...

@July 14, 2010 7:33 PM

I would be much more interested to hear from your spouse. But since you seem to have all the answers,I have a few for you.

Is your spouse employed at Decatur?

Is your spouse satisfied with the actions of the board and the administration of his/her employ?

What is the largest impediment to a students success whilst enrolled in compulsory education?

What is the largest obstacles facing today's teachers?

Why did your spouse become a teacher? Has teaching caused your spouse to re-think and do a 180 on any preconceived notions/beliefs/prejudice about the social strata in America?

Do you dislike blogging in general? Or do you simply find this particular blog to be irksome?

Do you or your spouse arbor any class resentments or prejudice?

Did your spouse attend public or private school? What is their views/opinion with regard to each?

Athletics vs Academia?

What's a reasonable starting salary? By how much should the salary exponentially grow? What's a reasonable salary after 20 years?

Should teachers shoulder the entire burden of blame? No. But they've certainly earned their share. Someone is continually passing students that can barely read and it sure isn't the janitors. A school system (like a chain) is only as strong as its weakest link. The community is supposedly represented by a school board. But if said school board is compromised by cronyism---what then? There's a reason why ex-teachers are on the school board...

Moreover,there are no unions representing the students or parents. As far as becoming involved,I can tell you this;Decatur doesn't like the hoi polloi to become involved. I don't know why. Maybe it's contempt? Perhaps one of the PTB will join in on the discussion,and enlighten us? Perhaps not.

Anonymous said...

@Springer Guest,

Well, first let me say that I'm quite intrigued by a few of your questions, as I'm having trouble determining whether they are germane to the exact discussion being had within this line of thought. In any case, I'll try to address them as best as I can.

Also, I haven't behaved as if I have all the answers. Rather, I've voiced opinions that have been formed over the years as my spouse has served in the capacity as a public school teacher. In addition, I'm not quite certain as to why you couched your comments as if you were providing answers. It seems that you are rather posing questions which I don't fully see how they connect.

(1) Related to my spouse's employment status, my spouse is employed within the MSD of Decatur Township. Why else would I be commenting on this particular blog? Do you honestly think it has some sort of status that rises to the level of attracting me to its discussions if said discussions don't particularly pertain to my life?

(2) Related to my spouse's motivation for becoming a teacher, I would say, through our conversations, that my spouse felt called to this particular vocation. It provided the opportunity to serve in a way that my spouse felt was compatible with their particular gifts.

(3) Related to the discussion on social strata and stigmas associated with class divides, I'm quite curious as to why you bring this into the discussion. Is it because I spoke about parental involvement? While I don't deny that there are certain constraints/limitations inherent to lower socio-economic classes related to educational opportunities, as well as parental involvement, I would say this is largely not been my spouse's experience. While there have been a few exceptions where parental involvement was limited due to multiple jobs, etc, in large part, parental involvement, or the lack thereof, has been directly related to lack of will on the part of the parent. In fact, I would hazard to state that my spouse's experience has been that even those parents of lower economic means that may require working multiple jobs have been eager and willing to become involved in their child's education.

(3) Related to challenges and such for today's teachers, I would say that our conversations have centered around three areas that provide challenges to today's teachers: (1) resources and access thereto; (2) policies and programs which are not helpful; and (3) lack of parental engagement in the educational process.

Granted, the first two of these issues are directly related to administrative issues, and thus are controlled by those who hold power, and my spouse understands this. My spouse is in no way completely happy with the totality of administrative decisions, in much the same way as I doubt anyone on this blog is completely happy with the decisions made by their employers.

Yet, at the end of the day, studies tell us that even with districts spending copious amounts of money per student, success is directly related to parent involvement and access to educational opportunities within the home. The largest indicator of a child's success is related to how well their parents get involved--as no public education can completely overcome poor home situations or lack of parent engagement.

(4) I'm curious why you would ask whether my spouse or myself harbor any class resentments. Care to expound upon why this was even posed as a question?

(5) My spouse attended for the entirety of their educational life a public school. My spouse is quite opposed to private education, especially when funded through public dollars.

(6) Concerning blogging, I find this question not germane to the discussion at hand, so I will leave it unanswered.

[continued in next comment]

The Teacher's Spouse

Anonymous said...

[continued from previous comment]

(7) Regarding teachers' salaries, I believe they should reflect the burden placed upon them. If teachers are expected to shoulder the majority of the burden for poor student performance, then their pay should reflect that level of expectation. Since most teachers spend a % of their own money to fund academic initiatives within their classrooms, which is an experience I can speak of personally, I think their pay should reflect that. The public cannot expect outcomes that are out of line with resource input. I cannot assume that I could give Ford 1 piece of sheet metal and expect them to give me back a Mustang. It doesn't work like that. In the same way, the public, and politicians, cannot assume that we can continue to lower resource inputs into the classroom--whether they be in salaries or tangible items--and receive higher results. Yet, that's exactly what's happened in public school education over many years.

(8) I'm curious, as you speak of the burden and blame teachers should bear, have you ever served within the classroom? I mean, you level a universal judgment against ALL teachers, assuming they are all somehow in this line of work because it's a cush job with great pay (which is hardly the truth). Administrative powers determine the standards for passing/failing students. Teacher control of this area is hardly the monopoly you make it out to be. In addition, whether you like it or not, the control teachers wield in reference to the overall direction and educational philosophy of the school district is much less than one would assume. On an individual level, each teacher should be judged on their own performance and on their own merits. Yet, I wonder why parents feel no culpability in this matter. My spouse has had students, who are definitely of means, show up with the latest toys/shoes/clothes, but totally unprepared when it comes to the tools they will really need in order to function as a student. Whose responsibility is that? Who receives the blame? From an outward perspective, that student's performance is measured against the teacher--and the parents are largely left without culpability.

In the end, I don't deny that there are real issues on all sides here. What I'm challenging is the notion that the solution is to anonymously criticize and never get involved. I mean, quite clearly, this is the avenue you have chosen to take, as you made an excuse that Decatur doesn't want parents involved. We, the American people, need a revolution in public education, with solutions that require everyone to change. Sadly, though, too often, we just want to commiserate with our own little camps, never venturing out to actually see if we can work together. I know, I know, I'm sure you'll blame this on the administration, school board, and teachers. There is enough work for all of us to do, and it seems about time for us to get to work.

Sadly, though, I know that won't mean much to the people here, as it isn't quite as satisfying as actually doing anything. I would challenge those of you with kids in Decatur who gripe about teachers to volunteer in your kids' classes, ask your kids' teachers what help you can provide, and see if there's anyway to move beyond an us vs. them mentality.

The Teacher's Spouse

Anonymous said...

I am employed in Decatur!

I am NOT satisfied with the actions of the board and the administration.

What is the largest impediment to a students success whilst enrolled in compulsory education?
The largest impediment is lack of parental involvment. Additionally, teachers are not respected for their professional opinions, such as, retention of students, curriculum, non-teaching minutes, consequences for lack of student participation (homework, discipline, bad language, much more).

What is the largest obstacles facing today's teachers?
The administration calling all the shots on curriculum and professional development.

Why did I become a teacher?
I love children
Has teaching caused me to re-think and do a 180 on any preconceived notions/beliefs/prejudice about the social strata in America?

Do you or your spouse arbor any class resentments or prejudice?
NO, All kids can learn.

Did you attend public or private school?
What is their views/opinion with regard to each?
Without a strong public system democaracy will fall.

Athletics vs Academia?
Mind and body, both are important for well rounded development.

What's a reasonable starting salary?
Starting salary is is a shame those with a Master's, plus additional hours, and 25-30 yrs experience are not even getting double a beginning teacher.

Should teachers shoulder the entire burden of blame? No. But they've certainly earned their share. Someone is continually passing students that can barely read and it sure isn't the janitors. A school system (like a chain) is only as strong as its weakest link. The community is supposedly represented by a school board. But if said school board is compromised by cronyism---what then? There's a reason why ex-teachers are on the school board...

Totally agree with the above....

off to work in my classroom before school starts on Aug. 9th....will not be paid but that is what teachers do

Anonymous said...

Parents, evidently all you have to do to send your child to Valley or West Newton instead of Steven Decatur is raise hell with Stinson, One parent at least has already accomplished this!

Anonymous said...

Oh Yes, it also helps if your Dad is one of the coaches

Anonymous said...

FYI--Anon. 3:06 IS NOT my spouse. He/she is responding of their own volition and is not associated with me.

(I am simply stating this for clarity's sake.)

The Teacher's Spouse