Category Archives: Dispelling Rumors

Steps, Lanes and More: A Technical Analysis of Teacher Compensation

State of Michigan statistics show Grosse Pointe Public School teachers are the highest paid in the state.  Questions have been asked and theories presented as to why this is the case.  Teacher salaries are every district’s highest investment.  As such we need to understand the dynamics of employee compensation fully, but undertake the analysis in an objective, constructive manner.

Teacher salaries.  This is a heavy topic.  So here’s the preamble.

You are NOT about to read an argument that makes a case that our teachers are overpaid, or that they are greedy, or that they are to blame for school districts’ financial predicament, or that unions are evil, or any other similarly negative interpretation of this analysis.  We have to be able to talk about compensation.  We cannot fearfully avoid these discussions.  This would be like a household under financial distress avoiding discussion about their mortgage as they plan their budget.

The fact is that teacher salaries are our highest investment.  This should come as a surprise to no one.  Furthermore, salary costs have a direct impact on our second highest expense, retirement costs.  When dealing with financial challenges such as we are today it would be simply foolish to avoid analysis of our two largest budget items.

In anticipation of the next logical question, how can I, as a member of the Board of Education, position myself as an objective analyst?   I myself am a graduate of the Grosse Pointe Public School System (South, ’86).  I remain in frequent contact with dozens of fellow GPPSS graduates who are eager to see the district flourish.  As a parent of three GPPSS students, an uncle to many more students, and friend or neighbor of the parents of scores more students, I want nothing but the best for our district.  These are my motivations for Board service.

I count many teachers as friends.  Many recall I, too, was once a teacher and know how familiar I am with the value they deliver, their motivation for their profession, and unique challenges of their jobs.  I recognize the importance of a mutually respectful and beneficial partnership.

I don’t buy into the idea that Board members and teachers have to be cats and dogs.  I have nothing to personally gain in the increase or decrease of employee compensation.  I believe, as I am sure our employees believe, that the Grosse Pointe Public School System must maintain financial equilibrium in order to deliver the services the community expects.  As a Board member, my responsibility is to help ensure short-term AND long-term financial equilibrium within the construct of how Michigan funds public schools.  So with that foundation, let’s get started.

In a recent post and in a variety of benchmarking reports I have pointed out the implications of employee compensation on school budgets.  This begs the question, if it is true that Grosse Pointe Public School teachers are the highest paid in the state, how did it come to be that way and how can we afford it?  One hypothesis is that our teacher salaries are higher because we have a more experienced staff (in terms of years of service) and better educated teachers (measured by degrees and post-graduate credits).

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Filed under Dispelling Rumors, GPPS Budget Decisions, GPPS Finances

Granholm, Detroit News Want to Make a Hard Job Even More Difficult

The $165 per pupil cut is now state law. Granholm drops unexpected hammer on GP Schools with elimination of 20J funds.  Detroit News takes poorly researched position on Sinking Fund ballot question.

Amidst all the drama surrounding the various state budget bills, the House and Senate approved a School Aid Act bill  that cut funding by $165 per pupil.  The Grosse Pointe Public School System has roughly 8,400 students so this cut amounts to a loss of roughly $1,400,000 in annual revenue.  (See previous post for details on Michigan budgets and school funding.)

granholm Last night Governor Granholm signed this bill into law.  Many districts were clamoring for Granholm to take action so the state aid payments to public schools would not be delayed any longer.  Well, the good news is she signed it.  The bad news, for Grosse Pointe Schools and about 40 other districts like us, is that Granholm exercised her right of a line item veto on Section 20J fundsContinue reading

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Filed under Current Events, Dispelling Rumors, GPPS Finances, State of Michigan Finances