The Portland Association of Teachers has ratified the tentative PPS-PAT contract agreement. The PPS Board will probably do the same tomorrow evening. I do support the agreement, but there is one aspect that I opposed, find silly, and think finds the teachers union arguing that teaching experience and advanced credentials are not worth what PPS pays for them. It is part B of Article 22 (see here for PAT posting): Early Retirement Incentives. It has two parts: (1) health insurance and (2) and a monthly financial stipend of $425.
So, for teachers who elect to retire early, who are eligible for PERS retirement, who have 15 years of experience, and who are at least 60 years old but not on Medicare, PPS will pay for their health insurance. PPS also agrees to pay one-half the costs for spouses or domestic partners. What this might cost is not clear to me. In its August 16, 2013, news release, PPS stated that "By the fourth year, the school district would pay $1,504 a month for teachers working three-quarter time or more." (here) I have used the cost figure of $1,400 per month in the calculations below.
It is possible for PPS to save money by retiring experienced teachers and replacing them with less experienced, paid less teachers. This is because teacher pay goes up in annual steps for twelve years according to the following schedule.
So, at the extremes, by retiring a National Board Certified teacher with a doctorate and more than 12 years of experience (cost = $76,560 +$1,500 +$1,500 =$79,560) and replacing him/her with an inexperienced teacher (cost=$37,650), PPS could save up to $41,950. Of course, not all of those opting for early retirement will be at this top salary and not all replacements will be at the lowest salary.
But from these potential savings, the costs of the early retirement incentives (costs=$22,200 annually) paid to the retiring teacher need to be subtracted.
Subtracting the early retirement costs from the earlier savings yields net savings of a potential $19,910 maximum. Many retirements and replacements would yield less.
OK, this make sense. But, then, why have the steps in the salary schedule at all? Why not just pay all teachers the same? In terms of student benefits, why pay more for experience and degrees, if it makes sense to use the cheapest teachers possible. Why should PPS agree to pay any teachers more. Does PAT think the experience and additional education reflected in the steps on the schedule really does not count in terms of student learning?
I have previous blog on this issue here.