A Nauseating Lack of Transparency
Open to public scrutiny or a Three-card Monte shuffle?
For the past several days we have seen daily newspaper reports of the new, three-year contract for teachers in the Nauset Regional school system. These accounts all laud the contract, reached after five months of negotiation, for its zero cost-of-living increase in year one, followed by a 2% increase in year two and 2.5% raise in year three.
As with so many things, the devil's in the details.
"Step increase" is a nice euphemism for pay raise.
Now You See It
After reading recent press accounts, many will applaud Superintendent Hoffmann's negotiation of a contract that doesn't include salary increases in the first year.
Just a danged minute!
Teachers who are due "step increases" will still receive those raises. "Step increase" is a nice euphemism for pay raise or maybe even "entitlement". If it walks and quacks like a duck, it is not a piping plover. You can read the 2012 budget here.
Did Nauset negotiate some early retirement incentives to get those capped-out salaries off the payroll?
Hoffman reports that 70% of the teachers in his district are "senior teachers" who are at the top step in the pay scale and are only entitled to cost of living increases. Nowhere have we seen how much the pay increases for the other 30% will impact the district's budget in the next three years.
Meanwhile, with 70% of the payroll comprised of senior teachers, did Nauset negotiate some early retirement incentives to get those capped-out salaries off the payroll?
Now You Don't
Superintendent Hoffmann has reported a modest $25,000 increase in the training budget and an expansion of the sick leave policy that allows employees to use ten days of their accrued sick leave to care for family members. What is the net cost to the district of that benefit?
What is Nauset paying for teacher medical benefits?
Worse yet, not a word has been released about health care costs. What is Nauset paying for teacher medical benefits? Did the new contract bring any changes in the health care plan benefits or employee premium contribution? What percentage of the premium do Nauset teachers pay?
In a year where many Cape Cod businesses have been forced to chose between 20% premium increases or higher deductibles/lower benefits for health care, what concessions did Superintendent Hoffmann extract from the Nauset Education Association?
A Call for Transparency
Hoffman was imported from Ashland two years ago upon the retirement of well-respected Superintendent Michael Gradone. In hiring Superintendent Richard Hoffman the Nauset school board just might have found itself a true master of Three-card Monte.
All of the headlines on this story have touted the "no increase" aspect of the contract. A couple of stories touched on the step increases in passing but offered no numbers. Nobody has said a word about the health insurance, which must be quite the elephant in the room in a district the size of Nauset.
We are not disputing teachers' receiving fair compensation for their work. The Nauset superintendent's sleight of hand with the media diminishes what might be an equitable, fair teacher contract. Dr. Hoffmann has simply not shared enough with the public for us to know how good or bad this contract is.
Dr. Hoffman, Cape Codders require a bit more transparency, especially when you're digging around in our wallets. We would like to see that now, please.
We have emailed Superintendent Hoffmann offering our Op Ed space for a rebuttal.
You can add your comments below or email Superintendent Hoffmann directly at [email protected].