Thursday, November 22, 2007

Wrong Again: Teacher Salaries Revisited

Once again the Hilliard Northwest News has bobbled a crucial fact in the dialog about teacher compensation and school funding, two powder keg issues before our community right now.
In the November 20, 2007 story titled "Teachers, others show unity at school board meeting," stated that 'the current contract gives teachers annual raises of 3.6%.' This is at best only part of the story.
Near the end of the teachers' current contract is a set of tables labeled Appendix A1, Appendix A2, and Appendix A3. They are the pay tables for years 2005, 2006 and 2007, respectively.
The difference between these tables is simply this: the Index Computational Base is increased by 3.65% each year. Appendix A is the table by which this base is multiplied to calculate the exact salary.
For example, for a teacher with 10 years' service and a Masters degree, the factor is 1.6820. If you multiply the 2005 base of $32,678 by this factor, you get $54,964, the same number shown in Appendix A1 for a 10 year teacher with a Masters degree.
The pay for a 10 year teacher in 2006 is calculated by taking the same factor from Appendix A (1.6820) and multiplying by the base of $33,871 in Appendix A2. This is $56,971. Using the same procedure for 2007, you multiply the Appendix A factor by the base in Appendix A3, and get $59,050. It all looks like 3.65% annual increases.
The shortcoming of this analysis is that all three calculations were made using 10 years of service. A teacher with a Masters and 10 years of service in 2005 would have 11 years of service in 2006 and 12 years in 2007. The increase associated with additional years of service is called a 'step increase' by school folk, and is 4.15% under the current contract (Article 29, paragraph B).
Applying both the 3.65% increase to the base, and then the 4.15% step increase, the pay for a teacher with a Masters degree and 10 years service would be $56,971 in 2005, $59,335 in 2006, and $64,053 in 2007. This works out to 7.95% annual increases. You can find these exact numbers on the pay tables in Appendices A1, A2 and A3.
The step increases apply only to teachers with 15 or fewer years of service. After that, there is no step increase until the 20th year of service, again at the 23rd year, and then no step increases at all after that. Under the current contract, the more senior teachers would mostly receive 3.65% increases.
If it the Board's current negotiating position is that they want the teachers to be paid for three more years according to the 2007 pay grid (Appendix A3), what would that mean?
Well, if a teacher has 0-15, 20 or 23 years of service, they still get a 4.15% raise because of the step increases. Other teachers would get no increase at all. But note that the lowest annual salary of most teachers affected by this would be $72,363 – that of a teacher with 15 years of service and a Masters degree (to maintain one's license in Ohio, a teacher must gain a Masters degree within 10 years of starting their career).
If the objective of the Board is to give all teachers a 4% increase, which I think would be reasonable, then one way to get there is to suspend the step increase component for the duration of this contract. But I think we would find that the step increase mechanism is sacred to the teachers' union, and that this approach would never be accepted by them.
Another approach is simply to halve the two factors. Make the step factor be 2% and increase the Index Computation Base 2% each year. Or make the step factor higher and the ICB lower. Just remember that the step factor benefits mainly the younger teachers, while an ICB increase would apply to everyone. There are lots of answers, but you have to understand the question first.
According to the last community survey, the people of our community depend on the Hilliard Northwest News and This Week Hilliard as their primary sources for information about our schools. When the subject is teacher salary negotiations and tax levies, they must get the details right and put them in the correct context, or people will draw the wrong conclusions - leading to unnecessary conflict and undesirable consequences.
Meanwhile, I will do my best to read these news sources and give you further analysis or rebuttal when I think it is warranted. If you don't receive my electronic newsletter, and would like to, you are invited to go to and submit your email address on the sign-up box at the bottom of the page.

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