Posts Tagged ‘salary steps and levels’

Hurricane Katrina a-coming; school districts drowning

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

School districts are cutting budgets like crazy.  In Colorado, the state will reduce its contribution to school districts by roughly $350 million in 2010-2011, leaving districts scrambling to high ground while figuring out how they’ll cut millions from their operating budgets.

Pension fund deficits hurting budgets

On top of budget cuts, Colorado’s state pension fund (PERA) is underwater by about $30 billion over 30 years.  If left unchanged, the fund will go broke in 2032, which is not a problem if you’ll be dead within the next 22 years, but a challenge if you intend to live past that.

Colorado’s SB10-001, a bipartisan bill to square up the pension fund, will reduce the automatic annual COLA increase of 3.5 down to 2.0, and will increase employee contributions by 2 percent and employer contributions by 2 percent.

Salary freezes, furlough days, and larger classrooms on horizon

At the same time, many districts are looking to freeze salary steps and levels right now to balance their short-term budgets.  The freeze in Colorado teacher salaries could extend over two or three years, depending on state and local property tax revenues.

These facts leave boards and all school employees between a desk and a hard place.  It’s difficult to picture how school districts will provide any staff raises in the near future.  Starting teachers in the $30 thousand range may be stuck, sliding farther behind workers in other professional fields, such as investment banking.  New college graduates may struggle to figure out how public school teaching can ever provide enough of a living to be worthwhile.

While taxpayers certainly feel the pinch in this recession, schools are doubly hit as the budget crisis proceeds.  If a salary freeze occurs in ’10 -’11, budget balancing in ’11-’12 will require larger classrooms and layoffs.  By the third year out, budgets may be so drained that furlough days will be piled on salary freezes and increased classroom size.

High quality education at stake

Meanwhile, schools try to bring the highest quality education to kids, including all the technology necessary to keep students technologically literate.  They’re asked to reduce the learning gap between ethnic groups.  They need to get kids up to speed in reading, math, writing, and science.

Schools have so many fingers in the dykes that it’s inevitable that a New Orleans style flood is on its way, drowning kids in inadequacy and insufficiency.  School districts will need to offer their best arguments to their constituents to bring more money into the system.  But communities will also have to step up to avoid Hurricane Katrina destruction in classrooms across the nation.

*Serious discussion needs good communication to promote successful solutions for the school community.  See the website with this blog for a possible support program.