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).