Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Agreement Reached, Up To Teachers Now

Members of the Hilliard Education Association - the teachers' union - will get to see a new proposed contract today, according to a report from the Hilliard Northwest News. If accepted by the HEA, the School Board may vote to ratify the agreement at their Monday, May 12 meeting.

Remember that if the HEA contact has better terms than those negotiated last fall by the OAPSE members, the OAPSE contract automatically adjusts to match the teachers' deal.


  1. I just ran across your blog today and wanted to share with you some information I discovered while searching on the web. The data comes from the Hilliard BOE minutes Nov. 26, 2007 meeting ( There is a list of Contractual Activity Stipends that, when summed, added up to about $800,000. From what I can figure out, this is additional income that the teachers receive for participating in such things as being on their building School Improvement Team, mentoring other teachers, coordinating language clubs, etc. And this list mostly did not include supplemental coaching contracts. My sister is a teacher in NJ and I have a friend who teaches at a private school in Columbus, and both have told me that part of their contract requires them to participate in a certain number of extra-curricular activities, such as Spanish club, PTO leader or Math Chair. My sister even is required to coach or be the assistant coach on one of the athletic teams. This is to encourage the teachers to get to know the children in other settings, rather than only classroom settings. And they are not paid extra, as this is part of their contract. I think the union has gotten out of control, not only protecting teachers who shouldn't be teaching, but also by leading the teachers to believe that they should be compensated for every 'extra' effort they contribute to the school. For a profession that works about 9 months of the year (and has the option to teach during the summer at rates of $25+/hr), plus gets days off for having evening conferences, grading, professional development, etc., I think they are quite well paid, especially when you include the benefits they are receiving. Many of the parents I know have to work late and are not compensated for working late because we are considered professional employees. I am constantly irritated by the attitude of the teachers unions in 'demanding' so much. I don't know anyone who isn't paying a portion of their medical insurance costs and I think their strategy of 'working to the contract' was immature and self-damaging. I work in the computer industry and the average increase over the past 2 years was 2.5%, and I don't have the advantage of the 'steps' to magnify that increase. I agree there is too much administration in the Hilliard Schools, but I also think that the teachers are being unreasonable over their contract demands too.

  2. Glad you found us, and hope you have time to read more of what has been posted here and on the companion website.

    Thanks for sharing your findings - it's another piece of the picture that few of us understand or even cared about until recently.

    Edwin Land, inventor of the Polaroid technology, is attributed with the quote: "Anything worth doing is worth doing to excess." I think this might apply to unions. A friend of mine was in management for one of the big auto companies, and he told me that the UAW contract for their plant said that once the workers reached 110% of their required production quota for their shift, they could sit down and play cards, take a nap, or whatever they wanted. As a young manager, he asked one section to sweep up their area instead of sitting around, and they filed a union grievance. Sounds stupid.

    Then you talk to the workers and find out that before the negotiated production quotas, the company was running the lines faster and faster every shift to the point of causing injuries and mistakes. Such things usually have two sides when you take the time to listen.

    I grew up in union country, and know without a doubt that the pay, benefits, and working conditions enjoyed by my Dad and my friends' dads were a consequence of collective bargaining by the unions.

    But I also know that those same unions priced themselves out of the labor market, and today my hometown and many like it are a shadow of their former industrial might.

    I don't know the history of these teacher stipends, but I don't necessarily see them as a bad thing. What's wrong with rewarding teachers who make the commitment to doing these extra things, especially when there are undoubtedly other teachers who walk out when the last bell rings? Since there is no individualized merit pay, this may be the only way to compensate for the extra effort.

    But the teachers' union has to recognize that this kind of compensation approach can make them appear greedy and nitpicking, especially when few of us in private industry - especially salaried professionals - ever see anything like this.

    Those union workers back in my hometown thought they were competing with their company's management for a good deal. They never considered that they were competing with foreign workers who would do the same job for much less. For many, the best contract they ever had was the one they signed just before being laid off - for good.

    There is a callamity like this in our future if we don't get a new levy passed. My estimate is that more than 200 teachers would need to be laid off. The HEA is asking the members of our community to go into the booth on Nov 4th and choose to raise their school taxes more than 20% to underwrite our labor costs. By then, the price of gas might be $5.00/gal for all we know.

    It's no time for the teachers to be perceived as whining about pay and benefits - not if it jeopardizes the passage of the levy.

  3. Response to Anonymous. . .

    As we know it, our economy is stagnant and slow to improve, yet the costs continue to rise for survival of "day to day" life. Our schools require a large portion of our local tax revenue to function on a daily basis, and yes 80%+ of those expenditures come in the way of salary and benefits to our teachers, administrators, custodians, secretaries, and other support staff. The interesting point that many people are not realizing is that 80%+ of expenditures of most companies come in the way of salary and benefits. People are only stating the obvious when they complain that so much of the school tax revenue goes to the teachers/support staff's salary and benefits. Duh? It's not a point worth arguing.
    Consider the fact that our schools, while educating our students for much under the average cost per child as many central Ohio districts, continues to provide our kids with a quality education. I can't blame teachers or anyone for that matter to expect to be paid for extra time outside of their workday. Teachers have long given volunteer hours outside of their workday, it's something that comes with the job. Yes, they are paid for some of the committees that they are on, but I know that it doesn't amount to much money when the stipend is taxed heavily, nearly 50% and is given at the end of the school year. (Information from a friend that teaches in the district.) Try coaching for example. My friend says that his stipend ends up coming out to less than $1.00/hr. once he divides his stipend by hours given to the coaching position.
    I think it's a mood point to argue the stipend scenario and that teachers shouldn't be paid for extra duties. Believe me, they give plenty of time to duties they don't get paid. In general, I have no complaints about the overall integrity and compassion of Hilliard teachers, no matter what it costs the tax payers. Hilliard teachers aren't getting rich from teaching, many have several side jobs. I think people just like to complain and put the blame on someone else for their financial problems. Workers in my profession start in the $60K right out of school, teachers usually take at least 10 years and a master's degree before they reach that point. I'm sorry, to me that's peanuts when you look at the monetary value teachers receive. You want to stop paying high property taxes, then lobby your local delegates for improvement in school funding from state and federal goverment tax revenue.

  4. What's going on now is a negotiation between the school board and the teachers' union, and simultaneously a negotiation between the voters and the school board.

    While the school board is supposed to be representing the community, the reality is that they largely insulate themselves from the community and - as far as I can tell - have their discussions and make their decisions out of the public eye. All we ever get to witness are the votes after the decision is already made.

    The fact that so many are surprised that 85% of the cost of running our school is personnel is a symptom of the lack of communication.

    It's not true by the way that most companies spend 80% of the operating expenses on personnel. I just through the financial statements for Kroger for example. Their personnel costs are less than 20% of their total costs. Most of their costs are merchandise, as you would expect.

    However, it is true that professional services organizations spend almost all of their money on personnel - and that's what our school district is.

    We also need to acknowledge that while teaching isn't a profession most of us have the skills or demeanor to do, there is no shortage of new college graduates applying for teaching jobs - at least not in the suburbs. If the teachers' unions want to raise the compensation for teachers, they need to make it harder to become one.

    That's the reason medical doctors get paid a boatload. My kid will have gone to school for eight years and spent $200,000 before she gets the right to work 100 hrs a week and be paid squat as a resident. Maybe by 2015 she'll get to earn a decent salary. By then, most of her undergraduate classmates will be eight years into their careers - 25% of the way to retirement and a pension if they are a teacher.

    Like I said, this is a negotiation. The people of the community will decide how much of their income they want to transfer to the teachers. The school board gets to negotiate what individual teachers get paid. The community gets to negotiate how many teachers are employed. If we don't get this levy passed, it will be about 200 fewer.

    As with any negotation, information, communication, trust and respect is required to get a reasonable outcome.

    It would be good to get more funding from the state and federal governments, but not likely. What we really need to lobby for is impact fees.

  5. Two points with the second anonymous posters' comments:

    First, though I agree that teachers probably do put in extra and "volunteer" hours during the year, remember they also have the summers off to recover (with full pay and benefits). I would be willing to stretch more during the year if I knew I had 2 months off too. And, if you consider their salary is for basically 10 months of work, they get to the $60K number much quicker than quoted compared than those professionals who work a full year.

    Additionally, and correct me if I am wrong Paul, but while Hilliard may have per student costs below other districts, the taxes are higher due to the lack of businesses and uncontrolled residential development. If this levy passes, we will have one of the highest school tax rates around. Even if this comes with "reasonable per student cost" it is still a miserable failure on part of the district. All those stats and per student numbers are fine in their place, but if we end up with one of the highest taxed districts in the area then the BOE and city need to get on the ball. The bottom line for the majority of taxpayers is their bill. If that is excessive the rest of the statistics are meaningless and just covering up other deficiencies and problems in the system.


  6. That's exactly right. The costs of running our school district used to be equally shared between homeowners, businesses and the State of Ohio. Now it's a one-way deal, with the homeowners (and existing businesses) footing essentially all the cost of enrollment growth.

    And now the school leadership has sold 90 acres of prime real estate to M/I Homes, who said at tonight's Board meeting that they envisioned starting the development within 2 years (or as soon as they can get the permitting completed).