Union Official Peddles False Figures in Teacher Pay Complaint

Salary he posted on Facebook less than union contract prescribes

Teacher Pay Comparison 2016
Teacher Pay Comparison

When a Plymouth-Canton Community Schools teacher and union official took to social media recently to complain about teacher salaries, he left out some key information and also appears to have got the pay figures wrong, too.

In a Feb. 13 Facebook post, middle school teacher Jason Kaye included another teacher’s chart that appears to understate the district’s teacher pay by as much as $13,000.

The chart claimed that teachers who have been on the job for eight years were paid $50,400 annually. Yet the most recent union contract posted on the district’s website shows teachers with that longevity collecting $56,152 if they have a bachelor’s degree and $63,078 if they have a master’s degree.

The average teacher salary in Plymouth-Canton was $65,455 in 2013-14, according to the Michigan Department of Education. Kaye himself collected a salary of $78,375 in the previous school year (2014-2015).

The chart also claims that the district hasn’t increased salaries for the last seven years. But information the district provided for one teacher’s salary shows that it increased in six of the eight years she worked between 2006-07 and 2014-15.

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Kaye, who is also on the local union’s executive board, did not respond to an email sent to his school district email asking about the discrepancies.

As of Feb. 16, his Facebook post had been shared by 1,642 people. It read:

“Wonder why public school districts all across the country are losing quality educators? Ever ask why some of the best and brightest had an about-face and decided to enter a different career track? The non-partisan political-corporate colonization partnership is reality. The gutting of public education is underway and has been for years.”

In addition to the apparently erroneous salary information, the post also made no reference to the district’s financial condition.

Enrollment in Plymouth-Canton Community Schools has been in decline for six consecutive years. Because state funding is provided on a per-student basis, enrollment is the lifeblood of school finances. Plymouth-Canton’s student count fell by 1,624 from 2009-10 to 2015-16, according to the Michigan Department of Education.

That represents a decline of $12.3 million in funding from the state foundation allowance, compared to what the district would have received had enrollment had remained steady. The foundation allowance is just one part of the funding a district receives from the state; it pays for most basic operating expenses, including salaries. The district's general fund budget was about $154 million in the 2015-16 school year.

Like other school districts, Plymouth-Canton is burdened by the rising costs of the annual pension contributions for employees such as Kaye. The district reported $212 million in pension liabilities as of June 2014, and its contributions for retirement benefits skyrocketed from $15 million in June 2009 to $29 million by June 2015, in part to meet that growing liability.

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