Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Woe is Portland Public Schools

Portland trims teaching jobs
Portland became the first big metro school district to cut teaching jobs to balance next year's budget, voting Monday night to eliminate the equivalent of 250 teachers, classroom aides, counselors and librarians because of the loss of local property taxes, declining enrollment and other factors.
Look closely at the wording of this. They will "eliminate the equivalent of 250 teachers..."
They can't even be honest and say "We are firing X number of people." Everything about schools and their budgets is a numbers game.

The school cuts amount to about 10 percent of the work force of the 47,500-student district, which is Oregon's largest. The school board made the cuts as part of its approval of a $396 million budget.
Doing the math with their number: (which might as well be made up)
They have a "work force" of 2500; (250 cuts is 10%)
They have a student population of 47,500;
Therefore:

They have an 1 employee for every 19 students. (Hmm, not 35 students like the class sizes)

Let's pretend that 500 of the 2500 member "workforce" are administrators or "support staff", not teachers, (that's 20%) we would have a teacher to student ration of 1 teacher for every 23.75 students. To get close to the "overcrowded classroom" ratio you would have to have 40% of the "workforce" be non-teaching employees. 47,500 / 1500 = 31.6

Would parents and taxpayers prefer to have the school spend it's money on teachers and teaching or on hiring various "support staff" and counselors?

Cuts are coming in Portland and many districts across the state because school salaries, health insurance and pension costs are increasing faster than state aid. Pension contributions for Oregon school employees, for instance, are projected to rise 53 percent next school year.
That means they could rise 106% per budget cycle! (biennium)

Besides cutting teaching jobs, the district's budget:
Spends $500,000 to hire three new central administrators in the curriculum department.
Half a million for three admins. I'm sure our kids will be much better educated for it.

If only the school year wasn't so short...
2004-2005 SCHOOL CALENDAR
Between the start of the school year and the end of the school year there are 30 days (not counting weekends) that kids are not being taught. Outside the official "start - stop" there are 8 additional days when teachers are in the classroom (getting paid) but not teaching kids.


8 comments:

Schoolio said...

Teachers can't teach 8 hours a day, they have to prep, grade papers, etc. Its hard as hell and they get paid next to nothing for it. As to your comment about the schedule, kids have to have breaks and the eight "inservice" days are mostly mandated by law for training and staff meetings. There is no fat left in the schools budget, it barely has bones left. Your picking at a very small percentage of the budget will change nothing.

brian said...

No fat left in the budget????
$500,000 to hire three new central administrators in the curriculum department. Sounds like fat to me. PERS recipients get a guarenteed 8% return investing in the stock market.... funny no one else I know of gets a guaranteed 8% return.

Daniel said...

"they get paid next to nothing for it."

Let's start with the premise that teachers make $35K a year. They get 3 full months off. (25% of the year) So add 25% to their salary = $43,750
Add 40% in benefits ($14K) = $57,750

Then they get 2 weeks for Christmas, sorry, "winter solstice," a week spring break, and every holiday. Teacher's work about 7 months of the year.

Sounds like a decent deal to me.

John said...

Let's start with the premise that teachers make $35K a year. They get 3 full months off. (25% of the year) So add 25% to their salary = $43,750
Add 40% in benefits ($14K) = $57,750

Then they get 2 weeks for Christmas, sorry, "winter solstice," a week spring break, and every holiday. Teacher's work about 7 months of the year.

Daniel, you frighten me. Kids are in school for 180 mandatory days. Teachers (generally) are in school for 8 days beyond that. Assuming a five day work week, this is roughly 38 weeks of work. This means they have something like 14 weeks "off." This sounds nice, but in reality, many teachers work ten hour days. The NEA reports that the average teacher works 63 hours per week, when school is in session. Even assuming they don't do a damned thing when school is out for the summer and vacation (which is pretty unlikely), they work something like 2400 hours per year. Divided into 40 hour weeks, that's 60 weeks of work! Looking at it another way, they make less than $15 per hour of actual work!

It isn't a very sweet deal, in fact no profession requires as much education as teaching for as little pay. I should also add that many school districts in Oregon require teachers to maintain professional development (that means more school) - for the most part at their expense.

From a financial standpoint, teaching is no deal.

The median household income in Portland is $67,900 (this does not include benefits, that's not how salaries are calculated.) For a person with a
Master's Degree, the average Portland income is
$57,000 (that's per person, not household.) So
teachers make about 60% of equivalently educated
people (actually less, since teachers are in that
class and thus bring down the average - the average MA holder who ISN'T a teacher might make as much as $65,000 or more!)

And what about a house? Teachers should have somwhere to live! Mortgage brokers tell people that they should have monthly housing expenses of no more than 28% of their gross income. So your average teacher has about $817 to spend on housing. Assuming that the teacher can come up with 10% down (which will be tough for most), the average teacher can afford about a $110,000 home, when one factors in mortgage, insurance and property tax. The average house in Portland today is more than $200K, which means that even a husband and wife who both teach are essentially stranded in the bottom half of the housing market. But worst of all, teacher salaries only go up a percentage point or two a year. Portland's houses are rising roughly 10% a year. That $200K house will, statistically speaking, probably cost $220K next year. It is widely thought that in five years, the average two-teacher couple will be unable to afford ANY stand-alone house in Portland. Does teaching still sound like a decent deal to you?

Also, you need a little work on your math and English:

If teachers really had three months off (they don't,
but that's another matter) then one would add 33%
to their salary, not 25%. Why? Because three months in relation to nine is 33%, not 25%. Of course, your wildly inaccurate scenario implies that a teacher could get a summer job making nearly $1000 a week. Please tell us where!

Also, the plural of teacher is "teachers," not "teacher's."

Stay in school, learn a few things. Your creativity
reasoning will have little value in the real world.

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