Carlton superintendent rebuts teacher claimsCarlton Independent School District would like to make the following response to the article in the Dec. 14, 2012, Pine Journal: “Carlton teachers take cause out into the community.”
By: Peter Haapala, Pine Journal
Carlton Independent School District would like to make the following response to the article in the Dec. 14, 2012, Pine Journal: “Carlton teachers take cause out into the community.”
Carlton ISD 93 has been in Statutory Operating Debt (SOD) for nine of the last 10 years. On June 30, 2010, the district had a negative fund balance totaling $989,587. Through the development and approval of a SOD recovery plan in August of 2010, and strict adherence to that plan, the district recovered from SOD as of June 30, 2012. The district still has a negative fund balance of $91,709. The fund balance would have been a positive $11 except for the need to state a possible obligation to return $91,720 in Success for the Future grant funds to the Minnesota Department of Education. District policy also calls for a minimum 8 percent of expenditure fund balance or approximately $400,000. Until this fund balance is achieved the district must continue to operate on a very tight budget.
Carlton ISD 93 has an offer on the table to settle the current contract with the local teacher’s bargaining unit. The offer includes language regarding how part- and full-time teaching positions are defined, an off schedule stipend due to the district getting out of SOD, and a change to insurance agreed to in September last year. In September 2011 the district allowed teachers to move to the Public Employees Insurance Program (PIEP) with the understanding that there would be no other money available for negotiations. The PEIP insurance premiums cost the district $45,000 more than the Blue Cross/ Blue Shield VEBA plan that the district was offering. All other district employees eligible for insurance are covered under the BC/BS VEBA plan. Additionally the move of the teachers to the PEIP plan increased district benefit expenditures by $83,702 due to a decrease in implicit subsidies from the OPEB trust fund.
It is not accurate that teachers have not received salary increases over the last three years. Many teachers have still received annual step increases within the salary ranges for experience as well as lane change increases for those who have furthered their education. Also, teachers have received longevity increases for those reaching 15-, 20-, or 25-year experience milestones.
The Home Economics program was eliminated with the retirement of the teacher in January of 2010. At that time there were three Home Economics classes with 38 total students (10 + 17 +11). There is not an Industrial Arts teacher this year due to only nine students requesting Woods class. The Industrial Arts program will be offered next year if there is enough interest. The district did add a Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program for students in grades 7 and 8 in place of Industrial Arts.
The district applauds the continued excellent efforts of the teaching staff to provide our students with an outstanding education despite the financial constraints under which all employees are operating. The achievement of getting out of SOD in two years is a tribute to the community who supported the passing of the operating referendum and all employees of the district. Bus routes have been reduced, custodial and maintenance costs have been kept to a minimum while dealing with old infrastructure, and teachers have reduced supply purchases. Supply budgets were not eliminated; in fact the district spent $36,780 for instructional supplies in the 2011-2012 school year. The high school English, mathematics, social studies, science, and special education departments each received between $1,600 and $2,200 for books and supplies last spring from Title VII funds. The administrative team and school board are to be commended for the time and effort put forth to continue providing all possible opportunities for student learning while containing costs.
Peter Haapala is the superintendent of Carlton Independent School District 93.