By Richard Leonetti,
Oregon Taxpayer Foundation
With the same money, and a sensible wage policy, Portland could have more teachers instead of layoffs. Portland now pays beginning school teachers too little. Portland also pays school teachers higher fringe benefits than they can afford. The school district budgets $102,603 average cost per teacher which explains the upcoming layoffs and why Portland school costs are so much higher than all other metro districts.
How? Take the current 96 wage brackets and reduce them to three: a beginning teacher would be paid $50,000, the great middle $60,000 and the best 30% would become Master Teachers earning $70,000 per year. We have to lower fringe benefits. For retirement, pay up to a 6% match of what the teacher contributes to the new PERS 401k type plan. Health insurance would be held to $800 per month with any excess picked up by the teacher. And as long as we are at it there would only be six weeks of paid vacation.
This is a very hard nosed, but generous, offer. Some teachers might choose to retire rather than accept it, but we would not loose teachers to private schools who pay less nor would the great majority be able to match this in the private sector. For most teachers, and especially the newer ones, this would be a wage increase with still better fringe benefits than the private sector.
For the children this would be a big win. Smaller class sizes, and because of only 6 weeks paid vacation, a 220 day school year instead of the short 175 days we now have would assure better educational results than we now get. All this would take is a school board, a superintendent and parents who care enough about the kids to compare this offer to the rest of the world and insist that it happen.
No parents should settle for layoffs when other options are available.