The FIGHT AD 7-17-2001

see my withering rebuttal

Administration and School Board Neglect Responsibility to Students and Taxpayers

In response to taxpayers questions, facts regarding the Duluth Public School District are as follows:

Prior to the current administration and union dominated school board, this district was in sound fiscal condition:
The district was in "arguably it's best financial condition in 20 years." Duluth News Tribune, June 21,1998.
A ten million dollar fund reserve was established.
Spring 1998, Moody's Investors Service upgraded the district's bond rating for the first time in 25 years.
Balanced budgets were implemented.
Taxes for school purposes went down.
Three years ago, this district was in excellent condition to provide students with programs and services including:
Duluth teachers had one of the BETTER wage/benefit/ severance packages in the state.
Duluth teachers have one of the shortest work years ---180 days.
Duluth teachers have fewer students per licensed teacher than similar size school districts in Minnesota.
Elementary class sizes were at a new low.
Increased spending on text books, libraries, technology, secondary technical education, and a ten-year building maintenance plan had been accomplished.
To prevent fiscal irresponsibility by future school boards, FIGHT successfully encouraged passage of a Full Disclosure Resolution: 
Be it resolved by the school board of Independent School District #707, St. Louis County, Minnesota to fully disclose to the public all terms and conditions and fiscal implications of any proposed school district contract settlement with all bargaining units before final School Board approval.

This school board ignored the resolution! Consequences of two fiscally irresponsible settlements are now being felt!

Administration and board are fiscally and educationally irresponsible:
Teacher wage/benefit costs increased 29.2% in four years. (Inflation was about 10% during the same period).
Raised taxes to the maximum.
Spending from fund reserve.
Increased class sizes.
Budgets have not been balanced.
Thrown district into financial and educational uncertainty.

To arrive at a solution, there is a committee raising funds for another committee to hire a consultant!!! This is unbelievable.

Where did the school board think the money would come from? The governor warned all school districts in a letter against fiscally irresponsible teacher contract settlements.

Administration is hired to provide financial and educational data with recommendations for solutions. With this input, the school board is elected to vote, based on the best interests of students, not the best interests of fellow union members or union relatives.

Taxpayers demand that this administration and school board do the job or resign. Issues needing immediate attention are: 
Duluth has 175 more licensed staff when compared to ten school districts of similar size (12,000-15,000 students). The annual cost to the district is approximately $11 million. 
No other school district of this size operates three high schools. 
The seven period schedule is a 1/6 "overtime pay ploy" by the teachers union. Edina and other excellent Minnesota high schools operate a six period day. 
Leave the fund reserve alone. Using this fund reserve for any recurring expenses is irresponsibly short sighted.

Blaming parents for choosing options for children is NOT the problem. Educational leaders should ask: Why are parents choosing other educational options for their children?

In addition, FIGHT requests:

Zero percent increase during the current contract negotiations. 
Conflict of interest resignations from members of the teachers union Education of Minnesota or those who have close relatives who are members. 
A Balanced Budget: Revenues = Expenses


Compensation Facts for Teachers:

Starting Salary: $26,651(4-yr. degree)
After 9 years: $51,899 (some graduate and in service credits are required)
Additional longevity pay: $900 after 15 years 
                                              $1,700 after 20 years 
                                              $2,600 after 25 years
Additional district cost of $8,337 per year per teacher toward family health insurance.
Additional district cost of $2,500 per year per teaches toward cost of severance bonus, which pays each teacher $75,000 in cash and insurance benefits when retiring.
Additional district cost of $5,3000 per year per teacher toward cost of social security and teacher's retirement.
Additional district cost of $1,000 per year per teacher toward cost of other insurance including dental, life, disability, workers compensation and unemployment insurance. 

Duluth Teachers Work 180 days per year. Tenure and Seniority protect teachers from dismissal regardless of competence.

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