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More Manteca teachers join ‘The $100,000 Salary Club’

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POSTED July 21, 2017 1:24 a.m.

You heard the mantra. The Manteca Educators Association (MEA) repeatedly hammered the public that they would strike if necessary in order to secure “a livable wage.”
Before the Manteca Unified board on Tuesday granted their wish, there were only five MEA members earning a base salary of $100,000 or more. The new contract swells that number to at least 19.
Those teachers making $100,000 or more once extra pay for everything for coachings to additional assignments are tossed into the mix, 53 teachers prior to Tuesday were making more than $100,000 a year. It’s hard to gauge how many more teachers will join the $100,000 Plus Club when extra pay is included under the new contract.
The highest paid teacher in Manteca Unified prior to Tuesday was compensated $148,639. That breaks down to a base salary of $103,177, extra pay of $18,799, and $26,662 in benefits.
The MEA, of course, doesn’t consider health insurance as compensation per se nor the $1 million plus a year continuing costs taxpayers cover when teachers reach certain longevity bench marks as pay. They also point out that teachers pay toward their benefits as well. True, but it also true if the taxpayers weren’t footing the bill for a large chunk of their benefits they’d be paying the entire cost.
It goes without saying not everyone in the workforce has employer provided health insurance or retirement plans let alone options that are among the best around for healthcare or retirement.
The data is gleaned from the Transparent California website. The information is from 2015. Given teachers didn’t get compensation increases last year, it is the latest payroll information available. It lists total pay and benefits by employee name and job classification.
The highest compensated district employee on the list is District Superintendent Jason Messer. His regular pay is $203,446 with his total pay coming in at $209,766. Add benefits at a cost of $40,786 and his total compensation is $250,553.
As a note, the median household income — a figure that represents the pay of all taxpayers — in Manteca is $62,032.
It’s hard to argue that teachers as a whole didn’t have livable wages before Tuesday. It’s ludicrous for anyone to contend that now with The $100,000 Plus Club rocketing up to 19 on base pay alone and going well past 53 when all extra pay.
After a quick look at other contract deals, the MEA is the highest compensated group of public school teachers in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.  It also appears that is true even when it comes to straight pay. If anyone would like to argue, be my guest. But the point is regardless of how you determine compensation, teachers as a whole are doing just fine when the yardstick used is pay and compensation in the overall region.
No one disputes a good teacher is worth being compensated as well as taxpayers can afford while keeping in mind that taxpayers have a lot of other bills to foot when it comes to government costs.
Some in the MEA alluded that the district was “playing games” during negotiations.
There is a general rule of thumb that you don’t negotiate away money you do not have. Also school districts have to worry about nuances such as paying for support staff, instructional materials, maintenance and such besides compensation teachers. The state also requires them to have balanced budgets three years out based on money they have and money they are projected to receive.
The biggest source of money by far is the state. In January, Governor Brown told school districts to expect a certain level of funding. That is what the district had to work on. In May, he bumped up the number giving the district more to work worth. Then the legislature in June when they passed the actual budget, pumped up the number even more. The district wasn’t playing “games” but was simply adjusting what they offered by the money they could expect from the state.
And about those “pools of money” the district allegedly has stashed away. The state is by far the largest source of district revenue. In the coming year they plan on doling out money to districts three times a year. Manteca Unified has a monthly payroll approaching $17 million. That means they’ve got to have cash of at least $68 million sitting around to pay monthly salary costs while waiting for state funds. They also have other ongoing bills such as water, electricity and materials for the classroom and general upkeep of facilities. And given cash flow issues, they need a reserve for cash flow that goes beyond just one fiscal year. If not every time the state has to back off on their commitments, school districts would be forced to cutback staffing.
The strike threat based on the insinuation that teachers as a whole were grossly underpaid does a disservice to the concept of transparency and encouraging critical and rational thinking.
No one should hammer teachers for what they make but at the same time teachers shouldn’t hammer the general taxpaying public by essentially crying wolf.

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