Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Road to an Override?

So as of this morning both papers have covered the new three-year teacher contract for the Amherst Schools, the second largest employer in Amherst (behind that juggernaut Umass) and both articles do the complicated math, providing average salaries for all 400 teachers or the 14 at the top step but nobody does the simple math:

What is the total dollar amount of increase over last year’s 1% increase for salary/wages due to this blanket 2.5% raise and did the Superintendent factor that dollar amount into his budgets presented to the School Committees and coming before Town Meeting next month?

The combined school budgets are 49 million and colloquial wisdom is that employees account for 85% of that, or around $40 million. So a 2.5% raise comes to an extra $1 million (Hey a million here and a million there…).

My concern of course is NEXT year when it jumps another 3.5% from the NEW higher number, or $1.3 million.

I emailed Superintendent Hochman and longtime Finance Committee member Alice Carlozzi early Monday morning to ask what the dollar amount is and neither of them knew. Not a good sign.

UPDATE: April 11. So I heard back yesterday from Superintendent Hochman and the figures are: $294,701 for last year when the raises were only 1% and this coming year FY09 694,947 and next year at the 3.5% will top $1 million.


O'Reilly said...

No, not a good sign at all.

The school system has its own budget guy. So this means the superintendent and the budget guy don't communicate about issues amounting to $1 million budget additions.

LarryK4 said...

Well we don’t know if it’s $1 million or not. SOMEBODY should know off the top of their head and the taxpayers should know as well.

From Mary Carey’s anal use of figures today we know the school employees about 400 teachers and the average pay is about $51,000 or $20 million in teacher payroll.

Now half of those teachers ended up (because of time in the system) with a 6.5% raise, so on $10 million that’s $650,000 and the other half only receive the 2.5% or an overall increase of $250,000. Or a grand total of $800,000 increase.

Ahhh…but the School System employs anther 400 support staff: janitors, secretaries, and Big Shot white-collar bureaucrats. So did they all get a 2.5% increase (and step raises) as well? If so the total amount could easily top $1 million.

Either way, FY2010 is going to be a disaster; because whatever the Hell the amount now is for FY09 (and I'm sure it's at least 800K) goes up an additional 3.5%!

And to think I’m a word guy, not a math geek.

O'Reilly said...

The $28.6 million regional schools budget and $20.4 million elementary schools budget were written to accommodate the agreement in advance, said Elaine Brighty, chairwoman of the Regional School Committee.

Interesting. The budget was prepared to include increases not yet negotiated by the union.

Who is negotiating with the union and how did the school budget preparation staff know how much increase to include?

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, I was WONDERING about that myself. Notice that Pull Headline was NOT included in the initial Gazette story from a few days back.

And yes, naturally I emailed the Powers That Be a few days back about my concerns (but they read my blog anyway). Hmmm...