Contract season for teachers means renewed focus in how the school district compensates teachers and hourly workers. This year, costs have increased dramatically for teachers due to inflation and other forces. Now, the Madison teachers union, MTI, is asking the Madison school for better wages.
The union is asking for a 4.7% raise for educators and 5 dollars an hour more per hour for supporting employees like secretaries and security. That’s more than has been proposed by the school board, which has published a draft budget with a 2% raise for all staff with further increases for longevity.
Michael Jones is president of MTI, the teachers union.
“In terms at looking at their base pay and realizing that we’re really far behind. It’s about $15.96 to start here in MMSD but that’s $3 less than Sun Prairie and about $2 less than Verona. And we were seeing a lot of people leave. This has been a year that employees have left not not just the district but education in general.”
Ali Muldrow is president of the Madison school board. She says the district is in some hard times.
“You know there isn’t just 7 million dollars sitting around in recurring revenue. And I think the real problem that we’re confronting as a district is what it means to have our state legislature invest absolutely nothing in our young people through the bi-annual budget.”
Muldrow says a few things would need to change for the district to be able to pay the teachers what they are asking for.
“I think that prioritizing compensating teachers means really looking line by line at the budget and keeping cuts as far away from the classroom and far away from the classroom as possible. And I think that means making cuts administratively. And really looking at where there are inefficiencies in our budget. And that is something that we’ve engaged in over and over again and last night reminded us to go back and keep doing that work.”
Jones, MTI president, says he understands the districts position, especially without the state support necessary to supplement schools. But he emphasizes the importance of employee retention in staying competitive with salaries.
“If you are going to make decisions now that’s going to impact weather or not we are actually be able to staff schools. Because if enough people leave, you can’t hire enough people to make up for the loss – that’s a cost in of itself.”
The budget is slated to be finalized this fall.
Reporting for WORT News, I’m Heron Splinter