Marshfield schools say union law is saving money
- Associated Press
- September 24, 2013 - 9:55 AM
MARSHFIELD, Wis. — Gov. Scott Walker's legislation that eliminated most public employees' union rights has helped at least one school district significantly reduce its salary and health insurance costs.
The law prohibits most public employees from collectively bargaining on anything except wages and limits raises to the rate of inflation. When Walker proposed it in 2011, thousands of public employees, including many teachers, gathered at the Capitol for months to protest. Walker said the changes were needed to help districts cope with planned reductions in state spending to balance the budget.
School administrators in Marshfield said the changes have helped them reduce spending on teachers' salaries and benefits. The Marshfield School District spent about $16.6 million on teacher salaries last year — the least amount since the 2007-08 school year and about $1.3 million less than three years ago, according to News-Herald Media (http://mnhne.ws/15pyjGD ).
"These tools we have been given have been quite effective for us being able to curtail and control the costs," said Pat Saucerman, the school district's business director. "I don't want to give Act 10 too much credit, but I do believe it's had a positive effect on our ability to control costs as we move forward."
Some savings come from the district having more young teachers than three years ago. They typically earn less than older teachers.
Saucerman said the 1.2 percent raise the district and teachers union agreed to last year was the lowest he's seen. School officials and the union are still negotiating this year's increase, which can be no more than 2.07 percent.
Additional savings has come from having teachers pay more toward their health and pension costs, Saucerman said.
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