Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Blame State Aid? Waukesha Schools Squeeze

In Waukesha, the folks turned out to try to get more State money for the school system.

About 500 parents, students and spectators packed a school auditorium Monday night, pleading for help from local legislators in dealing with a financial situation that some predicted would devastate the School District.

Administrators have recommended eliminating the equivalent of 62 full-time staff positions, which would raise class sizes, delay band and orchestra instruction and nearly eliminate elementary guidance, elementary library and gifted programs in the district.

Here's where the fun starts:

They blame the school system's financial woes on perennial discrepancies between what the state allows the district to raise under revenue caps and its actual expenses. A separate law, the qualified economic offer, virtually guarantees teachers annual compensation increases of 3.8% while revenue grows by about 2%.

Well--yeah. When most of the "expense" column is pay and bennies, and that column rises at 190% of your "income" column every year, there's going to be a problem.

The Lone Applauder had a worthwhile suggestion:

One solution each offered was a change in state law that would allow school districts to switch teachers' health care coverage. State Rep. Bill Kramer (R-Waukesha) estimated that if the School District adopted the health plan offered to state employees it could save $6 million annually.

Somehow, the Mayor of Waukesha didn't think that would be useful in the long-term:

But Waukesha Mayor Larry Nelson encouraged the crowd to find more permanent solutions.

"I think part of our jobs as citizens is to encourage our legislators to work with our governor, to work in a non-partisan way with their colleagues across the aisle and say 'This problem has reached a boiling point,' " said Nelson, a district middle school teacher who is on leave.

How about the possibility of Local Control and an end to binding arbitration, Larry?


ExxonRules! said...

Republicans are uniformly opposed to local control. The QEO and Revenue Limits are completely counter to local control. ExxonKramer offers a proposed solution that everyone knows is a non-starter in Madison.

Dad29 said...

Republicans who oppose Local Control are wrong. It's not the first time, nor the last.

Get rid of the Binding Arb at the same time (a point you curiously fail to address) and go to the State's health insurance plan (ANOTHER point you curiously fail to address.)

ExxonRules! said...

Health Care should be competitively bid. Why should legislators have a plan that is far more generous than what the private sector offers?

As for eliminating binding arbitration...what is your proposed alternative??

Finally, if I compare the QEO to the huge wage spikes Tommy T. gave state employees, the QEO is about 1/2 what Tommy T. gave away. Since Republicans will never support local control, then they need to pay attention when their control fails. In Waukesha, we had 6 Republicans who have little to no influence in Madison because they are in no danger of losing their seat to a Democrat and they do not have Jensen's manipulation power (granted through special interest money he controlled).

Dad29 said...

Fine, bid the healthcare! The State plan's price should be a guideline.

Eliminate arbitration and use the old-fashioned method: strike/strikebreakers, if it has to go that far.

If you wish to live in the past, referring to TT, go ahead. You won't find me defending him strenuously.

What's your point?

Anonymous said...

Full local control is a fine idea, but then you must have full local funding. Remember that pesky little "no taxation without representation" concept?
Working Mom

Dad29 said...

No problem-o, Anony.

Eliminate State aid to schools (which would be about 50% of your income tax bill.) Maintain DPI as a skeleton/administrative group for Fed reporting purposes and maybe maintain the CESA system.

Any other easy questions?

Anonymous said...

Sounds good to me! This hybrid of state/local funding/control is a mess. I would rather have the entire bill on my property taxes right up front where I can see how much I am really paying.
--Working Mom