Lance Scranton: Teachers: More than costs on a spreadsheet
May 2, 2012
Local teachers made the news last week when a healthy representation appeared before the Moffat County School Board to seek common ground regarding the rising cost of medical insurance premiums.
Plenty of discussion is tossed around when costs associated with running a school district are being negotiated. Employees are compelled to seek worthy remuneration for their efforts while management attempts to find cost-cutting measures intended to "ease" expenses.
Some segments of society see teachers as people who can't make it at a "real" job so they get into teaching. They work nine months of the year and have three months off every summer, go to work at 8 in the morning and are done by 3:30.
What a life – how much do they need to be compensated, anyway?
Others see educators as a group of people who make sacrifices to try and influence the future by teaching children.
These people know any teacher who arrives to work at 8 and leaves at 3:30 doesn't last very long, and when they come and sit in a classroom and see the reality teachers face every day, they understand what drives the weakest of the profession out into the "real" world for a "real" job.
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First-rate wage and benefits were designed into the school budget long ago in a spirit of attracting teachers and families to rural Moffat County to become a stable part of the community.
But, it seems as though there is a disconnect in our district between those who make budgetary decisions and those who, in good faith, teach children every day and have made a choice to live in Craig partly because of the salary and benefit package.
Some years ago, the school district adjusted administrative salaries upwards to attract and maintain excellent leaders. Some might think the same should happen for classroom teachers.
Teachers are increasingly seen as a cost on a spreadsheet to be solved by managing the numbers and finding solutions such as increasing ("adjusting") premium rates.
Full disclosure: I do not take part in the district’s medical insurance coverage for my family because of the expense.
Fourteen years ago I moved to Moffat County and the consensus among professionals I spoke with was that Moffat County teachers were taken care of and if I was a good teacher, I would find this a great place to settle down, raise a family and become part of a community.
I love this profession and hope to stay in Moffat County for the remainder of my career, but as education becomes more like a business, I'm not seen as a dedicated veteran as much as an expense and a less experienced (expensive) teacher might certainly "improve" the budgetary outlook.
Teachers who strive each day to make learning fun and effective, get kids engaged, deal with the emotions of children, and challenge the best and brightest students should have confidence that those in positions of leadership and oversight are looking out for them.
I hope this is what's still happening in our district.