Money is not everything in education. In fact, there is little direct correlation between education funding and academic outcomes. This does not mean money does not matter in education. It does, especially when it comes to teacher compensation.
Though the predicted mass lay-offs did not come to fruition last year, teachers across the state did experience reductions in take-home pay. These reductions were largely caused by increased pension and health care contributions used by districts to offset the 5.5% per-pupil reduction in state and local money going to K-12 education.
In other words, many districts were able to balance their budgets despite reductions in public funding by reducing teacher compensation. Good for students, but difficult for teachers. Certainly a strong case can be made that increasing public sector benefit contributions is only fair, the discrepancy between the public and private sector in this regard is well documented.
But put yourself in teachers’ shoes. Many are taking home less pay today for doing the same work they were doing yesterday. I would be upset too.
The good news is the per-pupil revenue limit will go up $50 next year. This means school districts will be able to raise an additional $50 per-pupil through a combination of state aid and local property tax. Hopefully districts will use some of this modest funding increase to raise take home pay for teachers.
The after effects of the past 16 months are likely to linger for a while; money alone will not stop public sector employees from feeling they are under attack. However, reversing some of the fiscal pain felt by teachers last year is a step in the right direction.