Voters Guide: School district seeks approval of $198 million bond
Original post made
on May 14, 2012
Officials with the local elementary and middle school district are asking voters to approve a $198 million bond measure to modernize and improve school facilities and safety infrastructure.
Read the full story here Web Link
posted Monday, May 14, 2012, 2:23 PM
Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 4, 2012 at 1:56 pm
"It's not the teacher salaries that are entirely the problem. It's the pensions that go with it, particularly for the administrators (but also increasingly, the teachers).
Let's say teachers should (on average) make the private-sector equivalent of $100k/year; an upper middle class salary. BUT -- no pension (they can do 401k like everyone else). And since they work 9 months/year, the effective equivalent is $75k. Add in health care and other costs, let's say the teacher costs up to $110k/year. If the classroom has 25 kids spending $10k/each, that means we still have $140k left over for maintenance (present and future), supplies, administration, and more."
The problem with "...if I were President, here's what I would do..." suggestions is that they tend to make wide ranging assumptions on issues the presenter has little to no knowledge about. Here are a couple of large assumptions that I question, regarding your suggestion for "fixing" this problem:
1. You assume that existing pension obligations for teachers and administrators can be eliminated outright and replaced with 401k's.
Neat concept, but the bigger question is how to go about implementing that. Those existing pensions include accumulated contributions from all participating members over many years, who don't qualify for Social Security because of their pensions. Many people have based their long term financial plans around those pensions, just like many of us are planning our futures on our 401K's. They are contractual obligations. At the very least, you would need to offer a "buyout", providing a lump sum to each person, and then the question is, where do you get THAT amount of money?
2. You assume the problem is primarily with administrator salaries and pensions, and not the teachers. A quick look at any balance sheet will tell you the majority of the salary and pension problem is driven by teachers, and not by administrators, simply because there are so many more teachers than admin personnel. Its easy and politically correct to blame the boss and not the workers, but the sheer number of workers is what drives the salary numbers.
3. So that leads to the next problem, if its teacher salary and pensions that drive the costs problem, then what effect will your plan to eliminate those pensions, backtrack on the promises made to these teachers, and give them a lump sum which is going to be less than the value of their pensions going to do with the quality of instruction? How many will decide to take that lump sum and leave the profession? How will you attract new teachers, assuming you are no longer going to offer pension plans? How will you compensate for the loss of experience that comes from teachers who have worked in the classroom for years, vs. the new teacher coming into the profession?
Bear in mind, I'm in agreement that something has to be done with the pension, medical benefit issue for all state workers, simply because it is unsustainable. But unlike you, I see the solution to be something that is going to be gradual, such as changing of union contracts as they come up for renewal, and reviewing whether we do indeed have enough revenue to support the kind of education everyone wants, but few want to pay for (Prop 13, anyone?)
And the main point is, rejection of Measure G does nothing to support or aid in the success of your plan. If anything, it makes your plan even more unworkable because you now have even less money to achieve the steps you've outlined.
This is America, you don't have the luxury of dictating policy however you please. In a debate such as this, you will need to do the dirty work of negotiating with many the stake holders involved, like the unions, and parents, because like it or not, they have the power to stop you dead in your tracks. The finesse and politicking that must be done to make progress is why this issue is so difficult, and requires a more subtle touch, rather than the bat you plan to bring to the table.
Being an armchair quarterback may be fine for the Super Bowl, but if you're going to wade into this discussion like John Wayne with "big picture" solutions, be prepared to be dressed down when they start to look like a pig with lipstick.