What Happened to the $2,500 Teacher Pay Raise?

The $2,500 raises that Utah public school teachers were supposed to get is a lot less now. Somebody made a mistake in calculating how many public school employees there were in Utah. Who was it?

KCPW reported that

State officials miscalculated how much it would cost to give every teacher a 25-hundred dollar raise as lawmakers intended.

KSL said that

someone made a costly error, forgetting to count more than 2,500 jobs.

Who could it have been? The Legislature has pledged to get the problem fixed in the 2008 session, but it's interesting that neither the legislature nor the State Office of Education caught the problem.

Districts are working around the problem in different ways. For example, says KCPW

...Ogden says some districts have opted to rearrange their budgets and offer the raises now, in anticipation of the legislative appropriation.

Teachers in the Granite and Jordan School Districts will get about 19-hundred dollars for an average salary increase of about six percent.

We need to get the problem solved. It was a mistake of $6,250,000. With the size of the Utah budget, that shouldn't be an insurmountable task.

But we're hemorrhaging teachers as it is. At 38th lowest in salaries in the country and at almost the smallest salaries in the west, why would our best teachers want to stay here and teach? To fix the problem, we need a lot more than $6,250,000. And it is in Utah's best interest to find it.

Comments

  1. Legislator Math. Must have been an NCLB outreach program.

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  2. Might be a good idea to appropriate funds for a few calculators as well.

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  3. It wasn't the Legislature. It was the USOE that screwed up.

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  4. I really would like to know. A lot of stuff has been going around blaming the legislature. It would be clarifying to know that the legislature got incorrect numbers from the SOE.

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  5. The increase was legislated to go to real, honest to goodness, in the trenches, teachers in the classroom. Districts have been scurrying around and redefining job classifications in order to include a number of people that are actually do mostly administrative work in the salary increase.

    The legislature asked for accurate figures during the session. It passed the legislation based on the figures received. But legislators have been strangely tight-lipped about this. You'd think that if they were in the clear, they'd be pretty outspoken about who they were blaming.

    But pretty much everyone else has been tight-lipped as well. They're all acting like the three 'wise' monkeys. Something's rotten in the State of Utah.

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  6. Yep, increase the number of teachers when it comes time to increase pay, and decrease the number of teachers when they start calculating pupil-teacher ratios.

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  7. I know I'm resurrecting an old thread here, but the answer was released by the Office of the Auditor General in May 2007.

    http://le.utah.gov/audit/07_06rpt.pdf

    The short version, quoted directly from the report:

    * USOE miscalculated the number of employees in several classifications; as a result, the number of reported employees was short approximately 2,200 FTEs, which is about 7.7 percent of the total FTE count. Specifically, about 2,900 special education teachers, educators from the Schools for the Deaf and Blind, and part-time educators were not counted. However, this number is offset by about 700 FTEs which were overcounted from various other classifications, resulting in the final undercount (2,200 FTEs) mentioned above.

    * Misunderstandings and miscalculations resulted in an appropriation much lower than what was needed to provide each educator with the $2,500 annual salary adjustment, the amount intended by the Legislature. Calculations used to determine the ongoing salary adjustment were based on a $2,000 per educator gross salary adjustment rather than the $2,500 anticipated by most legislators. In addition, four employee classifications (guidance counselors, audiologists, psychologists, and social workers) were added to the bill’s third substitute but were never included in the final appropriation.

    * Miscalculation of employer-paid benefits resulted in a 32 percent ($156 per educator) overstatement of funding needed for employer-paid benefits. The original calculation of these benefits was based on the assumption that they were 24 percent of total funding needs, not the appropriate 24 percent of salary.

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  8. Thanks, Tom, for linking to the source. I've had the impression that a lot of people have used this oversight as a bludgeon to box the legislature over the head, but it appears that it wasn't their mistake.

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