Response to MMSD’s Draft 2022-23 Budget ProposalNews Uncategorized April 27th, 2022
MTI Board of Directors Statement: Response to MMSD’s Draft Budget Proposal
April 27, 2022
MMSD is not made of money. But it is made of people. Hard-working, dedicated, and loving people trying their best every day to support and grow the humanity in our youngest people.
MTI’s elected leadership is disappointed with the compensation preview in MMSD’s draft budget for the 2022-23 school year presented at the April 25 Board of Education meeting. While we recognize legitimate financial challenges posed by a negligent state legislature, the 2% cost-of-living adjustment presented is unacceptable if we expect to attract and retain enough staff to provide our scholars with the education they deserve next school year.
There are laudable aspects to this budget, including increased social worker allocation, expanding to full day 4K, and resources to support family engagement, among additional equity focused initiatives. However, should this budget pass with less than the full cost of living adjustment, given the increasing workloads and expectations, the message to employees is that we are expected to work more for less.
In this highly competitive labor market, MMSD risks losing even more staff by this action as employees see that districts like Waunakee, Sun Prairie, Kenosha, Racine, Oshkosh, Fond du Lac, and Milwaukee started negotiations with their employees at either 4.6% or 4.7% base wage adjustment. MMSD should lead in this area, instead we are losing staff and lagging behind.
To put this in perspective, an Educational Assistant working in their first year at MMSD makes $15.96 per hour. Based on the current rate of inflation, they would need to make $16.71 just to keep up in Madison. A 2% increase would be $16.29 per hour next year, less than the increase required to keep up with the rising costs they are experiencing. We are currently paying employees less to support children with special needs than the average Wal-Mart employee – about $3 less per hour less, according to ZipRecruiter.
We say we value children and education, yet our Special Education Assistants would earn more as retail employees than by helping students succeed in the classroom. Many of our hard-working educators (both salaried and hourly) are leaving MMSD – not just because we’re competing with Verona and Middleton for employees, but also Wal-Mart, Epic, Exact Science, and Kwik Trip.
The introduction to the budget contains the following statements:
“Budgets are a reflection of an organization’s true priorities and values. The 2022-23 Preliminary Budget Book reflects what is at the heart of MMSD.”
“We also know how important it is to have world-class educators in order to achieve the very best outcomes for all students. Research shows the most important factor for student success is having a positive relationship with a trusted adult. Therefore, this budget includes resources for staff recruitment and retention in addition to investments in building the capacity of our existing staff.”
A budget that increases the number of administrators in Central Office while decreasing the number of classroom teachers, education assistants, and other school-based staff is a poor way to signal to employees that they are valued by this district. Many of our world class educators are either leaving or hanging on by a thread because there is no more capacity without more staff.
With secretaries still fighting to be included in the bonuses awarded to their co-workers, during “Administrative Professionals Week,” and teachers experiencing the most traumatic year of their careers, forecasting a low-ball offer is a great advertisement for surrounding districts and private sector employers also desperate for highly qualified and motivated workers.
It is true that MMSD is not made of money. But it is made of people. Hard-working, dedicated, and loving people trying their best every day to support and grow the humanity in our youngest people. If there’s one thing we can agree on, it’s that we need everyone to lean forward together. But based on this initial budget, some get to lean forward, while others are expected to stay back. And it’ll be the scholars and families, who are witnessing so many of their teachers, assistants, and mental health supports leave Madison schools, who will be the most impacted.