I’ve been decidedly stagnant recently. I basically had to quit listening to the news because the BP spill was depressing me so much that I was finding myself being really, really down all the time.

Now we are bargaining for a new teaching contract and I’m worried about what will happen the new health care practices kick in. There are only so many times that we can absorb a 6%-15% increase in insurance costs every single year.

The hard thing to deal with in our current contract negotiations is the old boss would have looked at our first offer as being reasonable and signed it on the spot. Now we have a different boss in charge and fair compensation isn’t in his vocabulary. Apparently he is more interested in getting a “win.” He wants to be able to go back to the school board and say he got us to sign for a minuscule amount when in reality, sometimes a win should just mean seeing that the teachers get a fair (not exorbitant) raise and let life move on.

So that is making it real hard to keep a happy face about things. Our school’s fund balance is up around $700,000 k right now or roughly 30% of our budget which is 2 to 3 times higher than what is recommended. Four years ago, our fund equity was at $8,000 and the teachers were asked to sacrifice salary in an effort to help the school build that fund equity back up. So in four years, the fund equity went from $8,000 to $700,000 and we still can’t get a raise that will keep up with the cost of living increases.

It’s more than ridiculous. In fact we were offered a bigger raise when the fund equity was at $8,000 than we are being offered now when it is approaching 3/4 of a million dollars. That’s just insulting. So basically we can’t get a cost of living increase when the fund equity is low because we need to build it back up. Then when the fund equity is high, we can’t get a decent raise because the new guy has declared the fund equity level to be untouchable. Nice. Oh, not only that, but so far we have a $103,000 excess in this year’s budget. Yes, I said excess. So apparently we are going to put that money in the bank, too so next year our fund equity will bloat to about 35% of our total annual budget or 2.5-3.5 times bigger than it is supposed to be.

I understand the need for school boards to be fiscally responsible, but I wish from time to time they would realize that our teaching staff is not asking for the moon. We want compensation that doesn’t make us feel like we are being taken advantage of. So we can walk the halls feeling like what we do is appreciated on some level. Being a teacher is a lot like being a cop or a referee. No one notices the job your are doing unless they feel like you screwed up.

All I know is the sooner we get this contract done, the sooner I can quit worrying about it and devote more of my mental energy to my students. It’s all just quite depressing.


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