Thompson School Board needs to hear from Taxpayers Tonight!

By Craig Masters

The following e-mail was distributed by the Loveland 9-12. It was titled, “Letter from Nancy Rumfelt regarding tonight’s meeting.” It is reprinted here to illustrate two very important points: 1) there are still people willing to step up and speak out against “closed door” meetings where taxpayers are forced to pay the bills after the deals are cut, and 2) the Thompson School Board must be forced to answer to those who pay the bills – not to those who receive it.

I did not include an attached spreadsheet mentioned, however, it can be read by visiting the Loveland 9-12 web site and requesting e-mails.

May 16th at 6pm at the Thompson School District Board of Education meeting (800 So Taft Ave) the newly negotiated Teacher’s Union contract for FY2012-2013 will be voted on. The problem is that while the Board of Education (BOE) has discussed in great detail behind closed doors, the public has not been allowed to participate or ask questions.
The union contract is on the agenda as part of the Consent Agenda which means there will be no discussion as items on the consent agenda are generally those items that have been discussed and only need an up or down vote.

The recommendation is to pass the contract and also the compensation proposals which there are no details for and the proposed changes to the contract which were just posted this morning. So it would seem that BOE President Sharon Olson is taking a cue from Rep. Nancy Pelosi as the contract needs to be passed first and then we can find out all of wonderful things hidden within! Note: after the meeting is adjourned the BOE will then go into an executive meeting to discuss compensation once again behind closed doors.

We are still finding out all of the wonderful “gems” buried in the Patient Protection Act (Obamacare) :-) – do we really want to do this with the union contract?

I ask all of you to please attend the BOE meeting tomorrow and during the public comment which is at the start of the meeting, to ask that the Memo of Understanding (union contract) be pulled from the consent agenda for a public discussion. Please spread the word to all that you know as to often the meeting is heavily skewed towards teachers and district employees.

I would also ask that if you speak to request the board to propose and adopt that the negotiations be made open to the public and Douglas County is a great example of this being possible.

I read through what I can of the 284 package that was posted this morning and below are some key points and questions:

1. While the district is looking to cut spending on textbooks, cut advanced placement classes, cut bus service for high school, assess instructional fees, etc., the wage freeze per the new contract is gone. The memo from Superintendent Ron Cabrera recommends that the MOU (memo of understanding) be approved along with the compensation proposal. The proposed compensation increases are nowhere to be found!! Why?

2. The contract was agreed to on May 8th and so why wasn’t the public given more time to review the proposed changes?

3. Nowhere in the contract is there any mention of the employees needing to start sharing in the cost of their individual premiums for health insurance especially since there is an 8% increase which equals $720,000. How many textbooks would this purchase? How could this help with busing?

4. Early Release Wednesday is still here – now it is called “Collaboration Days”. Maybe if this time was spent developing the students learning, the reading proficiency for 3rd graders might b higher than 77%!

5. Previously when a teacher served as president of the teacher’s union the cost of the replacement teacher’s salary was to be shared equally but was capped at step 3/column 3 of salary schedule A which is $33,851. The district had to pay the excess of salary over this plus 100% of all benefits. The district also had to pay 100% of the president’s salary and benefits.

The new contract now is written so that TSD will pay for all of the replacement teacher’s salary and benefits and the union will pay half of the president’s salary at the rate of $39,969 and this will increase EVERY year through 2016. For the first year the union will reimburse $20,000 and by 2016 will be up to $30,00 but the salary will be at $61,509 per the current salary schedule.

This means that the taxpayer is paying the salary and benefits of the union president whose job is to negotiate the best benefits possible for the union members. Who is negotiating for the best education for our kids and for the best use of the taxpayer’s money?

Here is the link to the packet and the union contract begins on page 245: contract

I have also attached a spreadsheet showing that since 2005 the district has spent LESS than budgeted and received more than budgeted and even the CFO has admitted that there is NO DEFICIT when you do not start the new budget using the deficit for a prior year that did not happen!

Even if you do not wish to speak please still attend and stand with Robert and I as we speak – this will help to show that the community is involved and expects true transparency from the district and the union. We must also show support for those board members who are making the kids priority number one!!

This is about our children’s future which without a quality education is not possible!!

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ( check the 9-12 web site ) email or call me.

In Liberty,

Nancy and Robert Rumfelt

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2 Responses to Thompson School Board needs to hear from Taxpayers Tonight!

  1. Lindsey Madison-Dunn says:

    I just wanted to respond to your concerns. If you would like to know the “wage increases” for teachers, there is a salary schedule for compensation that outlines between a 2%-3% increase for each year of service. This is lower than surrounding districts, but it does allow teachers in Loveland to keep up with inflation. Also, considering how low the salary starts for the education / degree required ($24,000) it takes ten years and a master’s degree for teachers to bring home $3,000 per month. Given all of the stress that comes with working with teens who are often truent, missing class to do drugs and many who binge drink on the weekends, as well as a community that claims to value education only on the surface, (Colorado has the lowest funding for education of every state in the nation) it would be way less stressful (and more profitable) not to serve as a teacher at this time. About 1/4 of the staff at my high school has chosen to find employment elsewhere or to retire. Without strong support for this profession, the kids will likely see very few experienced, veteran teachers who know what they are doing in the classrooms of the future.

  2. NancyR says:

    Lindsey,

    Where do you come up with $24,000 for a 1st year teacher? All new teachers are placed on salary schedule B
    step 1: http://www.thompson.k12.co.us/Divisions/School_Support/human_resources/licensed_salary_B.html

    And the salary listed is $32,329 and if divided by 12 months is a gross monthly wage of $2694

    Here in TSD teachers are paid to work 184 days (new contract) while those in the private sector work 260 days. When you annualize the salary to the private sector (salary/184days)x260days then the salary is $45,682. Those going into the teaching profession know what the work schedule is and basically the salary is prorated based on number of days worked.

    I think too many teachers/government employees forget that their retirement plan is far better than many in the private sector given that the average annual social security payment is $13k per year.

    With PERA the benefit is 75% of the last 3yr average which if someone works for 20 years in the district and achieves just moving to step 7 and all things remain constant then their retirement benefit is $37,492 x .75 which is $28,119 annually or $2343 monthly. On PERA a person may also once retired obtain another job without their monthly retirement being reduced.

    There are many other costs and benefits associated with each teacher hired and schools just as business have a finite amount of money to work with.

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