If you want to hold the line on tax increases, then it is critical to limit any increase in the MCS Teachers contract to the cost of inflation. In rough numbers, the school budget makes up about 80% of your tax bill and teacher compensation is approximately 80% of the school budget. Teacher compensation is a big driver of your tax bill, way more than the cost of speed bumps or the bond interest on the new police/fire station.
I believe the teachers’ contract already includes annual STEP increases. The COLA has been largely flat, as least as far as Social Security recipients are concerned. With that in mind, I question any increase in salaries beyond inflation. Why is not the annual STEP an adequate merit increase?
Another factor to consider is what other Towns pay their K-6 teachers. Does Norwich pay the same, less or more than Sharon, Hartford or Thetford? Most parents will probably say MCS teachers are excellent. However, I have no doubt, parents at other school districts say the same about their teachers too. Health insurance and other benefits need to be compared with neighboring school districts. As I read Negotiations Status Report, the Norwich Teacher’s Association is also asking for 98% coverage of a family Platinum health plan, to retire after 15 years, to double the annuity match from 2% to 4% of salary, and to get paid for accumulated sick days. I don’t know how these negotiating points compare with benefits elsewhere.
Bottom line, if you want to limit increases in taxes, teacher compensation is a big ticket item that needs addressing. Cutting the budget for sand and salt for public works or copier paper at MCS is simply a drop in a bucket of water.
Thanks for reading.