Citing the need for using increased revenue from the state for teacher salaries, Wauwatosa School District officials have crafted the proposed 2017-18 budget with a moderate increase.
District Director of Business Services John Mack said the amount the district receives from the state is slated for a possible increase and that has assisted the district in allowing for an increase in salaries without a large increase in the tax levy for residents.
“Our teachers are the core of what we do and the success we have in our classrooms,” Superintendent Phil Ertl said. "While we know this isn’t a large amount, we want our teachers to know they are a priority, and in a time when it’s popular to jump from job to job, we reward teachers who stay with us."
Gov. Scott Walker proposed to increase state funding by an additional $649 million for the 2018-19 budget for public and private schools for each of the next two years.
The additional money for the schools under Walker's proposal would amount to $209 per pupil for the Wauwatosa district, although Rep. Rob Hutton's office said the Assembly's proposed budget bill may make some changes to the formula that determines how much aid each district will receive.
"Ultimately we want Tosa to be a destination for great teachers with diverse talent and diverse backgrounds," Wauwatosa School Board President Shawn Rolland said. "A strong package of state aid would allow Tosa to retain quality teachers without a large increase in city property taxes."
According to a news release from the school district, teachers' total salaries generally consist of base wages plus supplemental pay.
"Base wages can be increased only through bargaining — and only within the confines of the relevant Consumer Price Index, which is 1.26 percent for 2017-18," the release said. "On the other hand, supplemental pay can be unilaterally increased by the board. In Wauwatosa, teachers' total supplemental pay has exceeded any base wage increase they could have received."
Over the past four years, the Wauwatosa School District has paid a total of $2.5 million — or on average, about $5,000 per teacher — more than what teachers would have received through maximum base wage increases in contract negotiations.
Retained teacher salaries increased just over 5 percent of the budget from the 2013-14 school year to the 2014-15 school year. That number lessened to a 3.82 percent increase in 2015-16 and a 1.99 percent increase in 2016-17.
In the current proposed budget salaries would go up 1.97 percent.
State aid affects budget
The 2016-17 budget saw a spending increase in the tax levy of 5.5 percent, from $45.2 million to $47.6 million. The reason for the increase cited by city officials was a drop in state aid.
According to Mack and the budget document released by the district, the proposed 2017-18 tax levy would amount to an increase of $8.66 for a $220,000 home.
The budget proposal document discussed at the June 12 board meeting can be found on the school district's website.
The board will take action on the proposed budget at its June 26 meeting. The district’s final budget will be approved in October when the state budget is released and enrollment and state aids are known.