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August 23 2012

The High Price Taxpayers Pay for “Free” Government-Run Schools

Vicki E. Alger

Taxpayers in Cleveland might be surprised to learn that they are picking up an $84 million teachers’ pension tab during the 2010-11 school year. That’s because both the district’s portion ($49 million) and the teachers’ portion ($35 million) were written into the district’s collective bargaining agreement with the Cleveland Teachers Union. These are just some of the latest findings from the Education Action Group’s multi-part analysis of public schools in cities such as Milwaukee, Detroit, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and Los Angeles. EAGnews reports that according to its analysis, “Sucking the Life Out of America’s Public Schools: Part 6 – Cleveland Teachers Union Contract,” it:

...discovered the pension giveaway – and many other budget-busting provisions – during its recent analysis of CTU’s collective bargaining agreement with the school district. Under the Freedom of Information Act, EAG was able to track how some of CMSD’s [Cleveland Metropolitan School District] $995 million total budget for 2010-11 was spent. The findings were remarkable:

  • CMSD paid out nearly $11.6 million in total substitute teacher costs in 2010-11. The district’s 3,547 full-time teachers took a total of 45,757 days off during that school year (40,675 sick days and 5,082 personal). That averages to nearly 13 absences per teacher.
  • Cleveland schools paid out just over $4 million in reimbursement for unused sick days for teachers and others covered by CTU’s collective bargaining agreement in 2010-11.
  • The Cleveland school district spent $3.9 million on automatic, annual “step” raises for teachers and other employees covered by the teacher union’s contract in 2010-11.
  • The district also paid out $116,423 for salary and benefits for the union president, who didn’t teach a single day during the 2010-11 school year. 

While the teachers’ contract requires the union to reimburse the district for the CTU president’s salary, there is no mention of reimbursement for the cost of a replacement teacher. And if no replacement teacher was hired, then the district is, in effect, loaning money to the union to pay its president that could be used to hire at least one full-time teacher.

These are the hidden costs of an increasingly expensive government education system. Taxpayers would be wise to scrutinize how their schools are spending dollars before turning over even more hard-earned money.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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