Let's face reality...here's the current situation facing the divide between the Strongsville City School Board and the Teacher's union (SEA):
An estimated 85% of the SCS's annual operating budget goes toward teacher salaries and tax payer funded benefits (pension and health care premiums). Anyone who operates a business knows that if your personnel compensation costs are almost 90% (see 2014) of your entire budget, you will NEVER survive as a business without changing your compensation structure.
SCS Teachers annually receive 10.2% of their yearly salary in form of tax payer funded pension contribution. This is 100% funded by tax dollars.
SCS Teachers pay a MAXIMUM of 10% of their Gold Standard Heath Care premium. With a maximum payment of $150.00 for family and $75.00 for individual. Well below average private insurance health care premium.
The SCSD's own press release states: "If the Strongsville City Schools continued down its current path, projected deficits are $1.1 million for 2014, $4.6 million for 2015 and $10.8 million for 2016."
There will be NO NEW TAX REVENUES available to fund the SCSD. Hope, pray, scream all you want. There will be ZERO new additional tax dollars available. The citizens of Strongsville have spoken loud and clear that they do not wish for another dime of their tax dollars be contributed to a system that is blatantly unsustainable.
Strongsville, OH is NOT Washington D.C. Translation: We cannot print money.
So....Here's the deal...we either change the current system, or we face forced massive austerity cuts (see Greece - they are just loving it over there!):
The only, and yes, I said ONLY, way to even begin talks toward a settlement is to be 100% honest and face reality. Enough with the emotional we deserve xyz, who started what, we gave this back then and we want this now arguments. Why? Because the literally have no meaning in this debate. All that we can do is look at the reality of what is in front of the school board and SEA right now (the above stated facts).
Being honest, there can be no deal struck between BOE and SEA that is of any worth if the issue of tax payer funded employee benefits is not the #1 issue on the table. It is literally devouring our school system's annual budget. If the BOE attempts to negotiate a deal where the structuring of payout of these benefits is not altered, then they are simply putting band aids on a gigantic wound and should be held accountable in their next election cycle.
So, knowing that zero tax dollars will be available to fund any demands made by the SEA on behalf of its members, I ask you the following question:
How do you stave off inevitable insolvency without eliminating 100% tax payer funded pensions and 90% tax payer funded health care premiums?
There literally is zero way insolvency can be avoided, at least beyond a year, without doing so. I'm sure you may be able to put it off for a year or so if you were to cut deeper into the students benefits such as lunches, busing, classroom materials, etc. But then the problem is not going away. It will be right back...and now it's 2x worse. So you'd be risking having to cut student specific benefits to get let teachers keep their current pension/healthcare benefit system and then deal with the same issue 1-2 years later (and now it will be even uglier than before)? Is that something that the SEA is willing to do in order to ensure their teachers are able to hold onto their 100% tax funded pension plans and 90% taxpayer funded health care premiums?
If I'm a parent (or human being for that matter), I would sure hope not.
The SEA needs a reality check. Times have changed. If unions wish to survive, they have to change as well. The current system is 100% unsustainable and there will be zero additional revenues coming in to support any additional expenditures or costs. Time to make due with what you have and that may mean making some tough decisions.
So enough with the emotional pleas of who deserves what, how hard everyone works, what was given up last year, etc. It literally doesn't matter. Get your head in the game and out of the sand.
Either deal with the reality that the current structure of tax payers funded SEA teacher's pensions and health care premiums must change in this settlement or start looking for property in fantasyland, because that's the only place where a system like this would still be viable.
If you disagree...please, enlighten us all on how you can leave the current benefits compensation package structure "as is" and keep this school system above water...knowing that you will be getting zero in additional revenue via tax dollars.
Think as long and hard as you want, but the only place left to cut is the students benefits (lunches, busing, classroom materials, etc.).
Try stuffing a note in your student's bookbag explaining that move to their parents.