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Teachers get raises in new three-year deal with district

Surviving spouses to receive health insurance

Nov. 23, 2010

The Fox Point-Bayside School Board unanimously approved a new, three-year teacher association contract last week, which includes the addition of a surviving spouse medical benefit plan, an increase in dental plan insurance and more salary increases for the third consecutive year.

Next year's salary increases of more than $169,000 were built into the budget as are the retroactive salary increases for the 2009-10 year, which amounts to $54,447, Director of Business Services Mike Graty said in a later interview. The salary increase for 2011-12 is $179,676.

Board members justify the increases as keeping the market competitive for teachers.

"Teachers are our greatest resources," District Administrator Rachel Boechler said.

The contract, which ends in 2012, places the district with some of the highest paid teachers in the surrounding area. Starting pay for new teachers moves from $33,559 in 2008-09 to $33,895 in 2009-10 and then to $34,572 in the 2010-11 school year. The figures for the 2011-12 year have not been calculated.

"We are giving more raises than we can actually afford," School Board President Michael Weiss said. And with district revenues on the decline for the years to come, board members realize a problem, but still agreed with the salary increases.

Health insurance increases are also responsible for a tighter budget. The new agreement increases the health insurance budget by $73,000. The increase comes from the new surviving spouse medical benefits, found in the union's contract. The amount does not include dental insurance.

Surviving spouses are entitled to whatever the employees receive in health care benefits, subject to exceptions in the contract and exclusions set by the district's insurer, Graty said.

"At the end of that three-year package, I see a radical change in the package," Weiss said. "I think things are going to change quickly and not for the better, for anyone."

A decrease in the district's enrollment and the subsequent decrease in state aid also contributes to the tighter budget. Fox Point-Bayside has 927 students for the 2010-11 school year. One hundred and eight of those students, nearly 12 percent, are nonresidents, due to the Open Enrollment and Chapter 220 programs.

The district projects enrollment decreases for years to come, which means less revenue for district operations.

The new teacher agreement takes effect right away.

"It's clearly not going to work out long-term … but given the situation we are in, it is a reasonable thing, hands down," Weiss said.

The Nicolet School District plans to send out parent surveys that ask questions about consolidation between the Glendale-River Hills, Fox Point-Bayside and Maple Dale-Indian Hill school districts with Nicolet. Combining the districts would save households from being taxed by two separate districts. Final surveys are planned to be sent out before Thanksgiving.

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