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March 09, 2011


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Jack; a question for Superintendent Simeck --

What percentage of his budget goes to teacher salaries, pensions and benefits?

To the previous comment: What does it matter?

This district has awesome educational possibilities for our children - the next leaders and torch-carriers of our democracy. We should not even question the amount of money we pay people that teach them how to learn, be good citizens and help preserve the American Dream for all of us!

Stop listening to the rhetoric of the national news shows and sound bites from those sources who only wish to dismantle democracy and prosperity for all of us - not just the rich!

Well, James, it might be relevant information. When we hear stories about school districts that have cut music, curtailed bus service, ended special education, etc., we tend to think, "Wow, that district has cut to the bone!" Without ever considering that the things that haven't been touched in those budgets are teacher salaries, benefits and/or pensions.

More and more, in school districts across the state, budget-concsious superintendents and school boards are slashing away at the only things that they can, (things like buses, sports, music, as mentinoed above); leaving alone the things that are untouchable under Michigan's pro-union collective bargaining laws.

So that is why I asked a simple question. Because I think the answer, in most cases, is slightly astonishing. Just as "entitlement spending" is the massive unaddressed part of the federal budget, "union contracts" are the massive unaddressed part of school budgets.

James, I couldn't agree with you more!

If I wouldn't put my child in a car that hadn't been engineered by a professional who can make sure it's safe on the road, then why praytell would I ever dream of putting my child in a classroom where her educational wellbeing was any less important. And look at how much automotive engineers make? Same education (if not less) than teachers are required to have. Same ability to cause great harm or incredible good. The same argument is frequently made to justify doctors' salaries. Why not pay teachers what they are worth to our society?

My theory is that we as a society have lowered our standards such that only what we pay for is what we choose to value. The fact that public education is free and available to all children should not devalue its significance.

And yes, we DO pay for it...as taxpayers...and I'll gladly keep paying for it. I'd pay MORE if I knew that they could keep paying teachers well enough to ensure that the smartest and best of our population would aspire to become teachers. As it currently is, you'd have to be independently wealthy or highly altruistic to want to be a teacher...the pay isn't worth it, in my opinion. They are not paid well (with or without benefits/retirement) when compared to other professions requiring the same amount of degrees and continuing education.

And cutting art....
cutting gym....
music...foreign language...???
So don't tell me that they're cutting programs instead of teachers...that's the most ludicrous thing I've ever heard of.

Anonymous, (too bad you don't have the courage to list your real name). My question to you is, would you take a pay cut in your current job just because the company has mismanaged it's business and no longer can afford to pay your salary? Would you be willing to work for less but do more?

I highly doubt your job is as important as those (teachers) who are forming the minds of the next leaders of our country. Teachers are educating the people who will take care of you and protect you when you are old...those who will carry out - and make possible the American Dream for future generations!

If you were a true Patriot, you would see that teachers are some of the most patriotic people in the USA!

Besides, as HppyGoLucky said, they don't make that much. I would venture to say, they make less than you!

Give them a break. They work hard for what little they have and most of all, they care about the future of the USA!

Thank you Anonymous for your comments. The teaching staff of Berkely School District has direct contact with the students in the district. They are the idividuals making the biggest difference in the success of the district. James, your too quick to jump to conclusions about teacher's not taking cuts in pay. Teacher's have been taking cuts in pay for some time now. They contribute to their pensions (unlike across the lake), they've taken cuts on healthcare, paying more for insurance, and haven't seen a decent raise in years! They work year round and get paid for 10 months. (Unlike our legislators)
We want well qualified professionals in the classrooms with our children, their pay should reflect the value we place on education. I for one, value education and the system in place where I live. My children attend a public school where I expect them to recieve the highest educational experience.

You are confusing me - JAMES - with ANONYMOUS. I'm the one supporting the teachers! 'Posted by' appears under the post - not above it.

Berkley has always been a walking district, so to say they cut buses, hm? Also, the teachers in Berkley are some of the best around, too bad the ones at Norup International School are not happy with the administrative staff and want to transfer out. Last year 11 teachers transferred to other schools in the district, this year 15 teachers have asked for transfers. Mr. Simeck should be concentrating on this issue and how all of 600+ students are affected at Norup.

A good teacher is priceless, I whole heartily agree. However, I would not want my tax dollars to go to ineffective low performing teachers, would you? More importantly though, how much of our budget goes toward administrative expenses, etc? Last time I checked, our administrative costs were higher than the state average, but our per pupil expenditures were less than the state average. Yes, perhaps our district does run "lean" but at whose expense?

1) Nobody said the district cut buses - it was being used as an example of cuts, hmm.
I imagine Mr. Simeck IS concentrating on Norup, and the many other things going on at the district. Personally, I'm glad he's being proactive regarding potential funding cuts.

For those concerned about the amount of money spent on administrative costs, look at the district administrative staffing levels. They can't run any leaner (they even work out of converted classrooms in an old elementary school).

There is an economy of scale issue in small districts. You can only make the staff so small before it gravely impacts delivery of education. A bigger district might be one answer (or Mr. Snyders goal) but at what cost to individualized education? I'm in the district for a reason - it's the best one around.

To: Pmcalhoun01 1) Nobody said the district cut buses - it was being used as an example of cuts, hmm.

Simeck said "This is a district that cut its fat years ago." "They privatized food service. There’s no bus service, except for special education."
Hello, there it is. He shouldn't use examples that don't exist.
I think you need to read a little more carefully before pointing fingers at my comments. The main concern to you (Pmcalhoun01) is you say you IMAGINE, hello why would someone imagine something. Don't comment unless you know for sure. Imagination is exactgly that, your imagination. Come on people, make this real and not made up comments.

The number of teachers who have put in for transfers from Norup International School due to administrative staff conflict is up to 20 as of last week.

Who (anyone?) going to address this issue and how it is going to impact the whole district? This is not just about Norup. Wherever these teachers transfer too it will affect and where will Norup find equal/qualified teachers to take their places?

I will not remain as unreachable. My name is Lana Sherman, I have been living in the Berkley school district for almost 16 years, I have a 20 year old son who graduated from Berkley and I currently have an 8th grader at Norup. Anyone want to contact me I'm in the Norup directory. Call me, I will be happy to work with anyone for the benefit of the Berkley School District. I don't want to argue with anyone, I only want to come up with solutions to the issues at hand.

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