The Macomb Daily reported recently that teachers in Utica Community Schools agreed to $6 million in employee concessions. On the surface, this appears to be a major step towards helping the district balance its budget. In fact, these concessions won't help all that much.

Employee compensation granted to members of the Utica Education Association consumes about 70 percent of the school district's entire operating budget. Yet the concession trimming $6 million from that expense only nibbles at the $33 million in overspending the district has created. Therefore, 82 percent of the budget cuts must come from the remaining 30 percent of the budget.

An apt chart produced by the Port Huron School Board illustrates the problem, which is that teacher compensation gobbles up the lion's share of district spending and comes at the expense of other necessary services. Just like the rest of the world, school districts have scarce resources and must prioritize how to allocate them. In this case, smaller concessions from the teachers union means larger cuts to other necessities and to programs like art, music and athletics.


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