School Board approves teacher contracts
Increase in salaries, benefits lower than expected
May 05, 2010 | 08:25 AM
Williams Bay — The School District is focused squarely on its finances in the midst of a growing deficit, according to acting School Board President Peter Miller.
On Monday, the School Board formally approved an agreement with the Teachers Association for the 2009-11 contract. The contract included a 3.06-percent increase in salaries and benefits.
"We have people wondering about our referendum issues and we've been doing our due diligence financially," Miller said Monday. "We have a raise less than other districts in the area. That's a good thing for this district in an era when raises are mandated by arbitration and you have to give that raise."
Williams Bay School District financial projections for the next five years show the expected $530,000 budget deficit for 2009-10 will reach $1.1 million by 2015. Those preliminary projections will be reviewed and most likely revised late this spring or early summer.
District Administrator Fred Vorlop said last month the district was expecting salaries and benefits to increase by 3.3 percent each year.
Miller said negotiations lasted several months in fall, but the board agreed to delay the final approval until this spring "because it was a below average raise and they didn't want it published yet."
Vorlop said the teachers voted "overwhelmingly" to approve the two-year agreement April 23. Included in the district's 3.06-percent raise is a 1.73-percent increase in salaries. The remaining is mostly fringe benefits. The average raise in the state of Wisconsin is 3.8 percent, he said.
"This is a better deal for the School Board and the taxpayers by three-quarters of a point," Vorlop said. "Both sides also agreed to reopen negotiations of salaries and benefits for 2010 and 2011 and we also will pursue a study of health insurance and early retirement options sometime this fall."
The 3.06-percent increase also includes the hiring of a cheerleading coach for $1,500 and a summer school supervisor for $500 because Elementary School Principal Barbara Isaacson is employed on a 10-month contract and cannot work summers.
Vorlop said the negotiations went fairly smoothly.
"We have a fine relationship with our teachers and we couldn't ask for a better working relationship," he said.
Vorlop has urged the School Board to consider a referendum be established by September to help cover budget shortfalls.
If a referendum does not occur, he said the district will be forced to make significant cuts.
The Williams Bay School District has once again refinanced debt, mostly from past construction projects.
Baird Financial Adviser Michel Clark said the district will save $142,265 or about 6.3 percent.
"The district will be paying off the principal faster, paying debt with a higher interest rate first — much of the debt was at a 5.25-percent interest rate, now that portion will be at 4.34 percent," Clark said. "It should be paid off in 2024, which is four years earlier than before."
Vorlop said the district also refinanced debt for the junior/high school building last year and saved about $262,000.
"That's savings of about $400,000 for those two efforts," he said.
Clark said the district won't be able to refinance again unless it issues new debt.
"There were savings prior to last year as well, because even once before that debt from this building was refinanced," Clark said. "This district has taken all opportunities."