FFM Bulletin 7/28/11

You can’t make this stuff up: Mpls Public Schools edition

A district-wide compensation study, commissioned by the Minneapolis School District and released earlier this year showed that 75% of non-teacher staff in Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) was overpaid compared to the market value for the same job elsewhere. When the report became public, a MPS spokesman said they would “adjust accordingly” for certain jobs.

So how did Minneapolis Public Schools adjust accordingly? By giving $270,000 in raises to some of the 25% not being overpaid.

The raises were given to 35 non-union, administrative staff with average annual salaries of $100,000. Last month, the district cut 118 jobs, including 52 teachers, to help fill a $20 million deficit.

These salary increases, along with the knowledge that 75% of their non-teacher staff is already overpaid, makes little or no sense for any school district in the state.  But it defies explanation when it is occurring in a school district that has lost over 25% of their student population during the past decade and is ranked nationally as “45th out of 50 larger cities” in graduation rates.

District spokesman Stan Alleyne said the decision to give raises were done “out of fairness.”

Unfortunately for Minneapolis taxpayers, “fairness” in the Minneapolis Public Schools system means making sure even more employees are now making well above the market rate while parents continue to vote with their feet and leave the school district. Minneapolis taxpayers deserve more accountability, transparency, and responsibility from their school district that has become a national embarrassment.

A big win for local taxpayers and school districts

Perhaps lost in the shuffle of the nine budget bills that ended the state government shutdown was a significant reform for school districts and teacher contract negotiations that the Freedom Foundation had previously examined.

The K-12 education finance bill signed by Governor Dayton eliminated the arbitrary deadline for school districts to settle their collective bargaining agreement with local teachers’ unions. The previous law required school districts to reach an agreement by January 15 for even numbered years. The cost of missing the deadline: $25 per pupil. Minnesota school districts had been fined $3.5 million since 2006.

With school districts facing increased financial pressures, the previous framework exacerbated the problem for many school districts that were forced to concede to the union’s demands or face a penalty from the state. Thankfully, the new law will protect local taxpayers and school districts as they move forward in future negotiations.

Tonka Disconnect: Shorewood Pulls on Joining Minnesota’s Largest and Most Expensive Taxpayer-Funded Telecom Network

The latest (and largest) taxpayer funded broadband network appeared to be on the fast track for approval. That was until the city of Shorewood rejected their participation in the $81 million Tonkaconnect project that would encompass 25,000 households in the West Metro.

“This is a want, it’s not a need,” said Shorewood Mayor Christine Lizee. “Is this the role of your local government to provide this service? The majority of our city council says no.”

The Shorewood decision sets the state for a critical vote in August on a $60,000 business plan. Stay tuned, and read the entire report here.

The latest from MN State News

If you missed any of the post-shutdown news, check out some of the latest from Minnesota State News, including details on the over $500 million bonding bill and the odds for another special session yet this year.

  • Bonding bill rebirth resembles Dayton's original priorities
    One of the three conditions put forth by Gov. Dayton before coming to a budget agreement was an additional $500 million bonding bill to be voted on during the special session, a condition that closely resembled Dayton's earlier proposal for a $1 billion bonding bill at the beginning of this year's session. Read more.
  •  Post-shutdown updates continue to surface following Dayton’s signatures
    Specific details on the timeline for getting the state up and running again are still somewhat uncertain, as post-shutdown details continue to emerge. One of the first questions for Dayton after the (first) 2011 special session ended was if he was willing to call another one. Read more.

Also, if you haven’t already, be sure to ‘like’ us on Facebook, follow us onTwitter, and add www.mnstatenews.com to your RSS feed.


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