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No New Teacher Contract in Elmbrook

Superintendent says Elmbrook will not be among those school districts and governments rushing to approve contracts to avoid sweeping collective bargaining changes.

Elmbrook Schools Supt. Matt Gibson said his district will not rush through a new teachers contract before sweeping collective bargaining changes go into effect this month.

Gibson and Elmbrook's finance administrator spoke before the Brookfield Common Council Tuesday night at the mayor's request to update aldermen on the district's budget issues.

Ald. Bob Reddin asked Gibson if Elmbrook would approve a new teachers contract before March 25 to extend collective bargaining rights that will be eliminated when the governor's budget repair bill takes effect.

Gibson said that will not happen.

Many school districts, municipalities and technical colleges have approved new public employee contracts that extend contract language on issues that in future contacts will be subject to bargaining and arbitration. Some of those contracts have adopted the governor's increased pension and health costs; others have not.

Elmbrook's teachers contract expires June 30, and the School Board has not yet discussed how it will handle all the issues contained in the contract, such as health insurance, vacation, sick days, teacher assignments, extra pay for extracurricular activities and more.

The only issue that has been resolved for next year is the school calendar which the School Board has approved, Gibson noted.

Gibson told aldermen Elmbrook will see a net loss of about $1.5 million, with the cuts in the governor's proposed 2011-13 budget outweighing the savings in pension costs in the budget repair bill.

Over the next five years, Elmbrook may face a total deficit of about $11 million, although that is less than the $14 million to $16 million that was projected before the pension and potential health savings.

Gibson told aldermen that Elmbrook suffers bigger hits than other school districts because it receives little state aid and spends more per pupil than others. The proposed state budget would cut per-pupil spending by 5.5 percent, a big change from recent years where per-pupil costs were allowed to increase annually by about 2 percent.

About 85% of Elmbrook's total revenue comes from property taxes. 

Ald. Dan Sutton questioned projections in charts supplied by Gibson that showed a reduction of as many as 114 teachers over the next five years while student enrollment would remain stable.

Gibson said should that occur, there could be a need in the future to seek referendum approval to exceed state revenue limits. That is not necessary in the foreseeable future, he said. But to keep Elmbrook a premier, high-achieving district with the music, art and athletic programs families demand, a future override referendum could be needed.

He also predicted that class sizes would start reaching the maximum levels allowed under School Board guidelines.

Waukesha Common Sense March 18, 2011 at 01:31 AM
Thank you Mr Gibson for using common sense and not screwing over the tax payers more than necessary. I am proud to be a citizen of your city.

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