Friday, May 27, 2011

Can't See DeForest For The Greed

Confidential?  Yeah...we can see why they didn't
 want THIS document to ever see the light of day!
 The pressure is off of district administrators and the school board here in Sun Prairie, because of the shocking cajones of the DeForest Board of Education and DeForest Area School District Administrators.

While we're getting worked up --and justifiably so--- about our own district administration on the cusp of getting 1.6% increases in the midst of tight times, the DeForest Administration Team ---with the support of the Board of Education-- awarded themselves titannic raises under the guise of "Dane County Market Equity" adjustments. The raises are retroactive to January 1, 2011. For appearances sake--you just KNOW they'll spin this in budget documents--- their salaries are being frozen for 2011-12. Geeeee whiz! With those increases, they should be frozen permanently.

How much of raises are they getting, you ask? The AVERAGE salary increase since the 2009-10 school year (for which administrators received a whopping 5% increase) is 16%. For a group of 22 administrators, the lowest increase received was 5.1% and the highest 39.1%. The price tag for salary adjustments comes to an incredible $304,000! And that amount is an expense for EVERY future year, further compounded by future wage increases.

For the top 11 DeForest Administrators, the AVERAGE salary increase in dollars was $15,700 per year. That increase in pay amounts to $1300 per month! Many senior citizens on Social Security (who have not seen an increase in the past 2 years) earn less than $1300 per month TOTAL! These fat cats are getting that as a RAISE!

Questions abound in DeForest as early indications suggest that the board of education (school board) did not vote on these increases in open session.   That would be a clear violation of Open Meetings Laws.  We could find no documentation or agenda that suggested these raises were even considered, let alone a done deal.  We were, however, able to obtain a document that appears to have been leaked from within the school district.  The members of the DeForest Board of Education should be ashamed of themselves, to say the least. They'll be lucky if they don't get tarred and feathered right out of the community. Recall elections are the soup du jour this spring. We may be seeing a few (or all) board of educations members facing recall elections.

Clearly these folks have no clue as to how badly things could heat up for them. Sun Prairie taxpayers put the whammy on the school board here 2 years ago by voting to cut the tax levy by $2,000,000. That amount could pale in comparison to what DeForest community members could do at their annual meeting this summer.

Why is this such a poorly timed move? First of all, folks, the economy isn't exactly hopping along like an Energizer bunny. Second, the time is quickly approaching when state, county, and municipal workers' paychecks will be severely cut by Governor Walker's agenda. These ridiculous raises will be hitting people's pockets when they can least afford it.

One other problem this situation poses is that we could very quickly get into a game of keeping up with the Jones. Our administrators will see DeForest's raises and want similar bounty.

The DeForest Times reports the following:
[District Administrator Dr. Jon] Bales said the decision was based on a desire by the board to have every district employee compensated at a level of at least the average in the market. "Over the years, we've been able to accomplish that with support staff and teachers," he said. "The effort with administrators was exactly the same. It's been put off, frankly, for years, because it is a high-cost group. We wanted to do it last year, we didn't do it. We wanted to do it this year, we didn't do it. We implemented it mid-year because you only pay half of what that base increase would have been. While it looks like a dramatic sort of adjustment for some people, at the end of the day, they're paid an average wage in the county." "I don't discount the timing, I don't discount the pressures on the district, but that was built around a balanced budget before the new state budget."