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June 11, 2012

Misplaced and Misguided Emphasis

Cindy A. Rose

If you want to see the future of Frederick County Public Schools regarding teacher compensation, all you need to do is look north to Pennsylvania.


Teachers in Neshaminy School District there have gone on strike twice this school year because they want more of their good thing.


The Philadelphia Post on reports the Neshaminy school teachers want “retroactive" salary increases, to 2008. “… a teacher making $100,000 a year now will be taking home a guaranteed $116,000 salary for nine months’ work in 2013.” The average teacher salary in this district is currently around $80,000.


These teachers pay nothing toward their healthcare and are still unsatisfied with their compensation package, a package that includes a $27,000 bonus at retirement and 100% of their post retirement health benefits covered.


Per Both full time and part time teachers get 100% taxpayer funded healthcare. They get $10,000 cash per year if they opt out of said healthcare. The average benefits package is $30,200 per teacher. And they receive a retirement bonus of $27,500 after only 10 years of service. Their highest paid teachers rank in the top 5% of all American wage earners.


Not fearing this here in Frederick? You should! This could be our future. It’s never enough for unions.


Here in Frederick, because our newly negotiated contract says teachers are going to contribute 8% more toward their insurance, you may see that as a concession on the part of Frederick County Teachers Association. Sort of.


However, that is negated by our school board kicking in another 8% on top of what it already contributes. That‘s a wash in my opinion. While the employee is taking 8% out of their right pocket, the school system is putting 8% into the left pocket.


Currently the school board spends $494.75 per month ($5,937 per year) per employee for medical and $431.85 ($5,182.20 per year) for dependents. Yes, you read that correctly – dependents.


I don’t know about you, but in my 15 years in the private sector, my employer never kicked in any money for my dependents. Neither would I have expected him to, nor asked him to do so. We taxpayers paid $13,865,561 in medical benefits – not for FCPS employees/retirees, but for their dependents. The dependent portion of benefits should be funded 100% by the employee, not the taxpayer.


Why am I bringing all of this up? After all, we are not in Pennsylvania. True! But the actions of the teachers’ union in Pennsylvania are indicative of unions in general and provide a look at our eventual fate.


Question: When will it be enough?


Answer: Never. As long as the taxpayer has disposable income, the unions will want it. Heck, they want it while we are demonstrating we have no disposable income. This is the mindset that would have you take a loan so you can make their payroll.


No matter what the compensation package – time off, sick days, work session breaks, lunch breaks, and so on – it’s never going to be enough. Isn’t Pennsylvania proof of this?


Most schools suffer the same treatment. I doubt ours will be spared Neshaminy‘s fate. The unions are in control of education. Don’t kid yourself into thinking otherwise. Our teacher’s union has demonstrated it cares little about the taxpayers of Frederick County. It’s been shown the unemployment numbers and the increases in our county residents requiring government assistance. It has fallen on deaf, non-compassionate – and to quote Commissioner David Gray – “heartless” ears.


Like Audrey II in “Little Shop of Horrors,” they demand “feed me,” oblivious to the limits and the pain of acquiring her sustenance. Eventually our Little Shop of Education will have to reign in the appetite of Audrey II or be consumed.


The majority of moves we’ve seen made during the budget sessions were done for the benefit of administration and staff. When was the last time you saw the Board of Education meetings packed with “I Am FCTA” blue shirts rallying to get books, paper or adequate toilets? The school system’s actions point to union support vs. student and education support.


When it's really for the children – there’s eerie silence. When the children are useful tools, it's all we hear.


Urbana parent Becca Clark would like to see such a rally. All she asks is for adequate bathrooms in the elementary school. Where are the voices of support and outrage? Teachers use these facilities, where is the Frederick County Teachers Association’s power and might? When the school board could have put $800,000 toward facility or student needs, it chose to put it in the “salary resource pool.”


As a parent and/or citizen, are you familiar with any of the student or facility needs? I’ll wager you could rattle off a list of teachers union wants though.


What does that say about where the emphasis of our school board is placed? Shouldn’t we be hearing more about what the students and their schools need? As a parent, that’s what I want to know. I hear plenty about wages and benefits.


Take a stand, Frederick County! Demand more accountability for what is going on with the students and the schools. We already know what’s going on with the unions.


I’ve heard whisperings of a Rally for Respect. I love how a certain group of citizens chastise others saying we don’t respect teachers. Grow up. Giving in to every demand does not mean there is no respect. It means we disagree on what should be done with the limited funding we have. It’s also known as a “difference of opinion.” Adults do this all the time without name calling or condescension.


By the way, I’m all for a rally. We need a rally for respect for the students and the taxpayers.


How about we put a little more time and effort into student needs?


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