Stephen Bell Elementary
Stephen Bell Elementary

Grades K-2

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Bell Creek Intermediate
Bell Creek Intermediate

Grades 3-5

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Jake Andrew Chappars Memorial Play Place
Jake Andrew Chappars Memorial Play Place

Playground at Bell Creek Intermediate

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Stephen Bell Elementary
Stephen Bell Elementary

Grades K-2

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How the BSS Staff Fits Into The Budget

In this section, we're going to look at how the BSS employees fit into the budget. As we've established, this is by far where the BSS spends the most money, but there is a reason for it. Schools are a service-based industry, much like salons or even hospitals. This means that it provides 'human capital' rather than 'physical capital'. In other words, a school's product is the service its employees provide. Without employees there is no service and therefore no industry. So, as with any other service-based industry, the majority of their overhead goes towards maintaining the service they provide by paying the people that provide that service.

 

It goes without saying that the service a school provides is education, but what exactly does that mean? Big picture? It means that they are contributing to a healthy US economy. On a smaller scale, the service provided is security in our own futures. By preparing the younger generations for entrance into the work force, schools are ensuring that it will be possible to meet the future needs of society as a whole, and on a more individual basis. The most commonly used example of this is that educated children mean better qualified doctors to care for the elderly in their communities. In that sense their education provides a direct benefit to us when they become our accountants, lawyers, contractors, etc.

 

Do teachers provide this service alone? Nope, the same way doctors are not the only employee that lead to a full recovery. A school requires many different positions in order to fully provide their service to the children in their care. Those positions are broken down into two types, certified and classified. A certified position is one where the employee must have a certain level of education and certifications, either one time or ongoing, in order to be qualified. This includes the superintendent, the principals, the head of tech, the head of curriculum, the psychologists, the nurses, the head of special ed., and all teaching staff. Classified positions are everyone else. They include the custodians, bus drivers, secretaries, media/library aids, special needs and education assistants, IT, bus mechanics, maintenance, and central office staff.

Since this section is how the staff salaries fit into the BSS budget we're going to start with a look at the changes that have been made in this line to help reduce the school's budget. In the last two years the school has chosen not to rehire 20 positions, 10 of which were teachers, when those employees left for various reasons. By not rehiring and shuffling classrooms around, they were able to reduce how much they spend on salaries. The entire school staff, from the superintendent down, have also agreed to a pay freeze for the next year. This means that none of them will have a cost of living adjustment for the year.

 

None of these adjustments were enough to correct the deficit though. This is why the state auditor came in, to search for any more areas where BSS could reduce costs. When it comes to the staffing they didn't find much. They ran a comparison of Bellbrook-Sugarcreek's salary schedule against several districts that BSS competes for staff with to determine whether that schedule was in line with their local peers. (Page 29 of the report) They determined that when it came to staff, BSS actually paid a little less than these peers in all but one category, teachers with a Bachelor's Degrees and 150 hours of continuing education. They made no recommendations to reduce staff pay.

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Where they did make recommendations was in staffing quantity. They compared how many full-time employee hours BSS had of each staff type per 1000 students against their primary peer districts. (Also on the chart on page 29) Their recommendations did not consider details like building configuration. Currently BSS has a nurse per building. The state auditor said that BSS would need to reduce the nursing staff by 1.5 full-time employee hours in order to be in line with their primary peers. This is why the audit is non-binding and the local schools are left to make the decisions that are best for their specific district. 

 

The only other possible staffing reductions the state auditor found were:​

  • 1.0 full-time hours - Tech Staff (which the school did in their most recent reductions)

  • 0.5 full-time hours - Central Office Administrative Support Staff

  • 0.5 full-time hours - Career Teachers (The ones that teach career oriented material)

  • 1.0 full-time hours - Counselor

  • 0.5 full-time hours - Librarian 

This is a mix of both certified (Nurses, Counselors, and Career Teachers) and classified (Tech, Central Office Support, Librarians) staff.

Now, let's take a closer look at the two categories. The classified staff makes up 39% of those employed by the school and they play an important role in its functionality. The majority of them, 89.5%, are hourly employees. Their incomes range from $14.13/hour to $29.84/hour.  If you average out their annual incomes, you get about $24,600 a year. The other 10.5% of classified staff are salaried, however. Five of them make over 60,000 a year performing duties that could not be filled for less, such as the treasurer and head of technology. This is important to remember when there is discussion of salary reductions as a solution to the school's financial shortfall. Just like their certified peers, the classified staff are also paid based on education and experience when it's appropriate for their positions. 

 

It is also important to remember that the classified staff currently have the same healthcare as the teachers and a government pension as well. They are public employees with the same employer. Part-time employees receive prorated benefits based on the number of hours they work. Any changes to their healthcare plan would have to be agreed upon in their contract through the Sugarcreek Local Association of Support Personnel. Like the teachers, they can choose to be a part of this union or not. Currently there are approximately 15 members of the 104 classified staff, but the contract applies to all classified staff.

 

The other category, Certified Staff, accounts for the almost two-thirds of the school's employees. All of these positions require at least a Bachelor's Degree to be hired. At present, there are 33 certified staff members that have a Bachelor's, 142 with a Master's, and 1 with a PHD. They are all salaried. The teachers' contract is negotiated every three years through the teacher's union, which only 73% of BSS teachers are a member of. If you scroll to the bottom of the contract you will see the last three years of salary step charts. You will notice the 2.0% at the top, that's the inflation adjustment applied to the top left hand starting salary, which the rest of the chart is built from. This is not an unusual practice, in public or private industry.  

 

"The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) issues an Employment Cost Index that measures the year-over-year increase in wages and salaries. The BLS October 2018 report indicated that wages and salaries increased by 2.9% for the 12-month period ending in September 2018. Wages for private industry workers increased by 3.1% and for government workers increased by 2.5%." - per How Much is the Average Raise in America.

Every BSS teacher falls somewhere in this chart because while they may not all be members of the union (it's their choice if they desire to have input during negotiations), the contract applies to all of them. Where they fall is entirely up to the number of years they've been teachers in combination with the degrees they've earned and how much continuing education they've received. This is stereotypically called 'step and lane' The steps are the incremental increase based on the number of years they've worked and when they increase their education levels they move over into the next lane. 

 

BSS may have a higher concentration of employees in the 'M' lanes, but the years of experience has a broader range. The teaching staff goes all the way from two brand new teachers to an instructor who's been doing it for 38 years. The average years of experience for BSS teacher's is 17. This is what it looked like when we charted out how many teachers are in their first, second, third, or forth decade of teaching. 

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This matters, because as with most service oriented positions, experience has definable value. If you need surgery, do you want to have the fresh out of med school doctor? Or the physician that's been doing it more than half their life? How about if you're involved in a serious crime? Do you want the new recruit or the seasoned detective investigating? The seasoned detective, right, even though they cost your local PD far more to employ. Teaching is no different. The longer an instructor is in the profession, the more adept they become at their job. There are always exceptions to every rule. You'll find people who do not excel at their jobs regardless of how long they've been doing it in every industry, but we as people would not put stock in how long a person has been doing something if experience rarely factored into the equation. Here is an in-depth look at how experience affects teaching, specifically.

When looking at staff salaries, there are also legal statues that need to be accounted for. The salaries of teachers and classified employees cannot be reduced without negotiations with the union. An employer offering a reduction in salaries for union employees in negotiations is generally called “regressive bargaining,” which is illegal. It's considered an unfair labor practice. This is why almost all districts address the salaries of unionized employees by either freezing pay or reducing the number of employees they have on staff. Nor can a school just reduce the salaries of its administrative staff. By law, their salaries can only be reduced when everyone else's salaries are reduced too. The Ohio Revised Code, sections 3319.01 and 3319.02 is where you'll find this. The direct quote from 3319.02 is "The salaries and compensation prescribed by such contracts shall not be reduced by a board unless such reduction is a part of a uniform plan affecting the entire district or center."