There are all kinds of information that - once written - become a matter of "public record" and, thus, available to anyone and everyone who asks for a copy. Sometimes a public record deserves to be shared even when individuals haven't actually asked for it yet, just so that the information is shared with as many as possible. The following text was prepared by interim Superintendent Russ Griggs and emailed to SEA (teachers' union) spokesman Steve Brehmer. It contains a lot of information in a concise manner that you may find interesting. Take a look - see what you think. (emphasis added)
"Swanton teachers deserve a fair contract"
Such a statement immediately implies that Swanton Teachers have been treated unfairly. Let us take a look at the circumstances surrounding recent and current conditions related to Swanton Teachers.
Swanton Teachers currently are and will continue to have the second highest starting pay for teachers in Fulton County.
Top teacher pay for Swanton Teachers in Fulton County is and will remain the third highest.
In recent contracts, past three years, Swanton Teachers received the highest base pay increases in Fulton County. They are among the highest raises in the state of Ohio. In 2008-09 base pay increased 3.7%, in 2009-10 base pay increased 4%, in 2010-2011 base pay increased 3 %.
No Swanton Teacher will receive a decrease in gross pay. As a result of what the board implemented:
Twelve (12) teachers will receive a 37% increase in gross salary from 2009-2012
Twenty nine (29) teachers will receive a 14-36% increase in gross pay from 2009-2012
Twenty six (26) teachers will receive a 7-10% increase in pay from 2009-2012
The average pay increase for teachers over three years is 18%
With the base freeze for 2011-2012 the average increase for Swanton Teachers is 3%
Forty seven (47) Swanton Teachers will receive 3-5% increases for this year 2011-2012
Twenty Eight (28) Swanton Teachers will not receive a raise out of 88 teachers for this year (2011-2012)
Swanton Teachers currently pay the lowest share of health insurance premiums for the best health insurance plan in Fulton County. The board has implemented a 10 % share of premium from the teachers beginning in February 2012
The single plan has a deductible of $100.00, the family plan has a $300.00 deductible.
Out of pocket health plan expenses for Swanton Teachers are the lowest in the county.
In a recent story on TV, the spokesperson for the Swanton Teacher Association reported that the Board of Education was unwilling to talk to the teachers.
In the five months I have been interim superintendent, four negotiating sessions took place, three with federal mediators. During those five months the SEA has refused to give a counter proposal to the board, refused to accept the board proposals and refused to take the board offer to the teachers. The SEA uses the same negotiator who has also failed to settle contracts in Delta and Springfield Local Schools. All the other local districts in Fulton and Lucas County have settled their contracts. The Swanton board has not required teachers to do anything that all the other teachers in the county, except Delta, have already agreed to in recent contracts.
Everyone deserves a fair contract. The SEA demands for base increase would make Swanton teachers the highest beginning paid teachers in the county. The same OEA representative will represent Wauseon in negotiations later this year. His goal then will be to make Wauseon teachers number one once again with a fair contract there.
I also learned from a TV news report that the SEA voted to authorize a strike. The SEA decided to release this information to the media, not the school board, and blast the board for not talking to the teachers at the same opportunity. Regardless of the outcome of the threat of strike, the Swanton taxpayers will need to renew the Emergency levy in 2012, at a higher millage rate due to declining tax values, pass a sizable increase in taxes either property or income, and possibly face a bond issue for a new building. In addition, cuts in expenditures and programs will need to take place. All of these things may be necessary in the next three to five years.
The threat of a strike has a negative impact on a school district. An actual strike tears the community apart as witnessed by the long term damage done in district where strikes have occurred.
This document is not empty rhetoric - it clearly lays out the facts. I'm not sure why the SEA believes that these facts will miraculously change once the new board takes office in January, but their spokesman Mr. Brehmer has stated to the media that they are waiting for that to happen.
Here's what I think: The children of Swanton Local School District deserve an excellent education and the Taxpayers of the same district deserve to have their tax dollars spent wisely to accomplish that educational goal. Going bankrupt by refusing to contain costs/expenditures never improves a family's home budget - why would it be any different for a school district?? Answer: It is no different at all.
At least now you know the "rest of the story" and not only what has been stated by the SEA negotiating team to the media.