Across our state, local school districts and teachers’ unions engaged in collective bargaining as the first day of school approached. Several districts experienced strikes, some still ongoing. Other districts reached settlements providing for double-digit salary increases.
Last session, the Legislature provided another $1 billion in school funding, complying with the state Supreme Court’s order to fully fund basic education. The increased state funding, however, corresponded with a reduction in local levies. So, the sustainability of large pay raises this year may not be sustainable in the future. Money raised from local levies are not meant to be used to supplement state dollars for compensation.
With the uncertainty about whether districts can afford the deals they’ve made and the disruption caused by strikes, there have been suggestions that the negotiating process itself needs reform. Teacher strikes, for example, are illegal, but the law is silent on consequences, making the prohibition on strikes toothless. Others say that with the state providing full funding, salary negotiations should be conducted by the state, rather than by local school districts.
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