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WISCONSIN: District Swings from Deficit to Surplus with New Union Contributions

Posted by FactReal on July 12, 2011

SMALL CHANGES TO UNION CONTRACTS BRING GREAT BENEFITS TO WISCONSIN DISTRICT
From a $400K Budget Deficit to $1.5 Million Surplus Thanks to Wisconsin’s New Collective Bargaining Laws
The School District in Kaukauna, Wisconsin, projects $1.5 million surplus after slight contract changes of employee contributions to health care and retirement. (Hat tip: Journal Sentinel of Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

The Post-Crescent reported on June 29, 2011:

KAUKAUNA — As changes to collective bargaining powers for public workers take effect today, the Kaukauna Area School District is poised to swing from a projected $400,000 budget shortfall next year to a $1.5 million surplus due to health care and retirement savings.

The Kaukauna School Board approved changes Monday to its employee handbook that require staff to cover 12.6 percent of their health insurance and to contribute 5.8 percent of their wages to the state’s pension system, in accordance with the new collective bargaining law, commonly known as Act 10.

“These impacts will allow the district to hire additional teachers (and) reduce projected class sizes,” School Board President Todd Arnoldussen wrote in a statement Monday. “In addition, time will be available for staff to identify and support students needing individual assistance through individual and small group experiences.”

Redstate summarizes the small sacrifices:
Most of the savings are taking place from teachers facing a slight increase in their contributions to their health care (still well below the average private sector contribution, mind you) and the institution of a modest contribution to their pension funds. They’ve also had their work week bumped up – to forty hours – and they’re up to six out of seven periods teaching a day, instead of five.
Washington Examiner has more details:
In the past, teachers and other staff at Kaukauna were required to pay 10 percent of the cost of their health insurance coverage and none of their pension costs. Now, they’ll pay 12.6 percent of the cost of their coverage (still well below rates in much of the private sector) and also contribute 5.8 percent of salary to their pensions. The changes will save the school board an estimated $1.2 million this year, according to board President Todd Arnoldussen. […]

Indeed, some of the most important improvements in Kaukauna’s outlook are because of the new limits on collective bargaining.

In the past, Kaukauna’s agreement with the teachers union required the school district to purchase health insurance coverage from something called WEA Trust — a company created by the Wisconsin teachers union…This year, WEA Trust told Kaukauna that it would face a significant increase in premiums.

Now, the collective bargaining agreement is gone, and the school district is free to shop around for coverage. And all of a sudden, WEA Trust has changed its position. “With these changes, the schools could go out for bids, and lo and behold, WEA Trust said, ‘We can match the lowest bid,'” says Republican state Rep. Jim Steineke, who represents the area and supports the Walker changes…

The changes mean Kaukauna can reduce the size of its classes — from 31 students to 26 students in high school and from 26 students to 23 students in elementary school. In addition, there will be more teacher time for one-on-one sessions with troubled students. Those changes would not have been possible without the much-maligned changes in collective bargaining.

Teachers’ salaries will stay “relatively the same,” Arnoldussen says, except for higher pension and health care payments. (The top salary is around $80,000 per year, with about $35,000 in additional benefits, for 184 days of work per year — summers off.) Finally, the money saved will be used to hire a few more teachers and institute merit pay.

MORE
Statement from Kaukauna Area School Board president Todd Arnoldussen
Kaukauna Area School District Staff Handbook changes
Kaukauna Area School District Staff Handbook 2011-2012

One Response to “WISCONSIN: District Swings from Deficit to Surplus with New Union Contributions”

  1. I can’t believe our failed teachers could possibly live with these draconian changes in their lifestyles . I say failed because of where our kids rank in world education . If they were paid according to the quality of their work they would all starve .

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