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Who speaks for taxpayers in teacher negotiations?

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I can't tell you how disappointed I am with the results of the contract negotiations that occurred between the school district, school board and Education Minnesota. The $427,010.50 annual increase in compensation and benefits is a travesty to the people who voted for the referendum in November. The entire amount of the referendum ($406,000), and more, went to this one bargaining agreement. Not one book for the children, not one computer, nothing to reduce class sizes not even a piece of chalk. That's not what we had expected when we so generously voted to take money from our pockets and put it to solving the budget crisis that the school district seems to face every year.

Who speaks for us in these negotiations? I am the taxpayer. I don't blame the teachers. It's normal for people to want a raise. Education Minnesota's job is to get as much as they can for the people they represent (and it's not the students). The school district administration wants a settlement to keep the peace. The school board should be representing us, but they seem to have forgotten that fact. In a year where people are losing their jobs, having wage freezes or cuts, how can you justify this large an increase. Again, who is speaking for us?

Frazee-Vergas is still negotiating. Lake Park-Audubon has a soft freeze on their bargaining agreement. In ISD #22, the negotiations did nothing to curb the ever growing cost of education. The average increase in wages in the first year statewide has been 0.81 percent and 1.0 percent for the second year (Star Tribune editorial 1-14-2010). In Detroit Lakes they got 1.48 percent the first year and 1.4 percent the second year. All steps and lanes were left in place. Have you ever thought of just saying no?

Worse is that the students have been let down again. If this is a negotiation, each side should receive a gain. What did we get for our money? Did we get any more class days for the students? Did we get rid of teachers that are underperformers? Did we pay the higher performing teachers more? Did you negotiate with a thought towards what's best for the students? I don't think you did.

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