A “Win/Win” For High School Dist. 207?


If what is reported in today’s Park Ridge Journal is true (“Teachers Keep Lid On Contract,” December 16), we want to give a Watchdog bark-out to the Maine Teachers Association (“MTA”) for what sounds like an innovative win/win solution to Dist. 207’s recently-disclosed financial problems.

While rejecting the D-207 school administration’s request to reopen contract negotiations for the purpose of permitting salary freezes and other reductions intended to avert cutting 75 jobs for an approximately $5 million savings, the MTA has suggested a voluntary payroll reduction which – if we understand it correctly – would divert a portion of teachers’ paychecks to the D-207 educational foundation for the funding of the positions that otherwise would be cut.

In other words, the teachers are stepping up to the plate to save their own, and their fellow teachers’, jobs.

Many private sector employees who don’t have the job, wages and benefits security provided by contracts like the ones enjoyed by most teachers have effectively done the same thing, only in a different way: by accepting wage freezes, and/or wage and benefit cuts, in lieu of layoffs.  As we see it, the MTA proposal gets D-207 to the same place.

A win/win that preserves the bargained-for contract rights while acknowledging and addressing the District’s precarious financial circumstances is a good thing.  And we would like to think that the concept of teachers sacrificing for each other – or, more accurately, for those unidentified 75 who were going to get sacked – in this way might also build some additional esprit de corps among the teachers.

This solution is not yet a done deal, however.  As MTA president Emma Visee acknowledges: “We don’t know yet how it will work.” 

Hopefully, the respective parties can overcome the devil that always seems to be in the details and make this solution a reality sooner rather than later.  Because even with a plan that provides the District with the $5 million it hoped to save by those 75 layoffs, there is still an additional $12 million in deficits that the District needs to address.  And that ain’t chicken feed.

But for the time being, this looks like a big step in the right direction which deserves a pat on the back all around.

And it should serve as a shining example to our other governmental bodies and their employees to consider as they cope with their own financial struggles. 

2 comments so far

I read the article and it was described as a grass-roots idea from the teachers themselves. Is it possible that there are some teachers out there who “get it” about how they have a pretty good thing going?

Hmmm … what would Fred Klonsky do?

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