Change in Arc Venue for November

Association Representatives, please be reminded that the venue for this Wednesday’s Association Rep Council is back to Severn River Middle School as announced in the Inside Scoop. Non-AR’s please don’t hesitate to remind your AR’s of the change, in the event Scoop was overlooked.

DUST NOT SETTLED ON FISCAL YEAR 2016

Starting with the ratification efforts on the FY2016 TAAAC/Board Agreement, TAAAC leaders made and will continue to make the simple and factual statement about the funding for the negotiated agreement when asked. While the negotiations were underway a tentative agreement was reached between the two teams for step increase. That tentative agreement on the step was effectively quashed before negotiations were completed. This happened when the Board’s budget request for new compensation funding was cut by 60%, and there went the money to pay for the step. TAAAC leadership has been the target of some ire from the Arundel Center since those public statements were made. The statement, however, is absolutely true. Any remaining doubters can look at the budget exhibit, and confirm directly at the source. The top two expense lines show a reduction in new compensation money from 14.5M to $5.9.

The exhibit can be found HERE.

Since the October 23rd ratification Mr. Schuh’s administration, mostly through Ms. Brandenburg, his Education Director, has been espousing terms and conditions of employment teachers enjoy that employees do not have. Some assertions have been more or less accurate, some exaggerated or even fabricated. Here are some of the latter.

NOT EVEN CLOSE TO TRUE

SPEAKING ON THE TEACHERS’ PENSION SYSTEM, MS. BRANDENBURG ASSERTS:

The tax payer contributes 93% to the TAAAC member’s defined benefit plan, the TAAAC employee 7%. This upcoming year, teacher pension costs with have to be “righted”. It is estimated to be between $7-8 million dollars. Again, a real cost that needs to be remedied!

FACT

Ms. Brandenburg is correct that the number of workers in defined benefit pension plans is dwindling. Although, the County does provide one and she and Mr. Schuh are participants. But for being correct on that one point, her assertion reveals that she understands nearly nothing else about her topic. Yet, she presented it as fact to her former colleagues on the Board of Education and an audience of students, parents, educators, interested, and citizens, along with televisions viewers at homes. In the words of our County Auditor (emphasis added):

  • “In her testimony on TAAAC benefits, Ms. Brandenburg said “the public taxpayers in Anne Arundel County” contribute 93% to TAAAC members’ defined benefit plan, with TAAAC member employees contributing just 7%.” She then says the “national defined contribution plan norm is that the company contributes 6% . . . and the employee the remaining 94%.” Neither statement is remotely accurate.
  • With respect to the defined benefit plan in which TAAAC members participate, AACPS’s audited financial statements show total pension contributions were 23.06% of covered payroll in FY2015. TAAAC members made 30% of the total contributions, not 7%; the taxpayers in Anne Arundel County contributed 16% of the total contributions, not 93%; and the public taxpayers of the State contributed the remaining 54%. Specifically:
  • The “taxpayers in Anne Arundel County” contributed $18,637,716, or 3.71% of payroll.
  • The taxpayers of the State (which includes, but is larger than, the population that comprises the “taxpayers in Anne Arundel County”) contributed $62,085,589, or 12.35% of payroll
  • TAAAC members contributed 7% of their pay ($35,202,876), which is 88% more the amount contributed by the “taxpayers in Anne Arundel County.”

For comparison purposes, the defined benefit plan in which you and I and Ms. Brandenburg and County Executive Schuh participate has more generous benefits that the plan in which TAAAC members participate. However, in our pension plan, the employee contributes only 4% of pay (17% of the total), and the public taxpayers in Anne Arundel County contribute 19.44% of payroll (83% of the total).

I don’t know the source Ms. Brandenburg’s data on defined contribution plans, but it cannot be accurate. While it sounds reasonable to me that the employer would contribute 6%, it cannot be accurate that the employee contributes 94%. I can only think that she doesn’t understand how defined contribution plans work. Under her assertion, an employee who makes $50,000 would contribute $47,000 to their defined contribution plan, and the employer would contribute $3,000. A more likely scenario would be the employer contributes an amount equal to 6% of the employee’s pay, and the employee may or may not make contributions as well.”

Ms. Brandenburg spent a few years on the Board of Education. She’s voted on budgets and collective bargaining agreements with four unions that negotiate with the BOE. Sadly, many listeners would have assumed her to be a credible speaker on the topic.

THIS FROM BOTH COUNTY EXECUTIVE AND HIS EDUCATION DIRECTOR

TAAAC has higher than the average norm for paid holidays, paid sick leave days, paid annual leave days, paid bereavement days, paid personal days etc….

FACT

Of the approximate 6,500 local educators in Unit represented only a few hundred are year ‘round 12-month employees. Those few hundred do receive paid holidays and annual leave. More than 6,000 others are 10-month employees who have salaries calculated by number of days in their duty year. Except for the FY16 calendar which has been temporarily shortened by one day, the work years generally run in length from 191, 193, 195, 200, and 210 days. Those employees do receive sick leave and bereavement leave (for which they would need to be sick or bereaved to use), along with personal business leave of two (2) days per year, three (3) for 210-day educators. Contrary to popular belief, these “10-month” employees receive no annual and no paid holidays. They work their negotiated number of days, less those for which relatively scant paid leave is approved. When holidays, election days, or even snow days close schools they just work deeper into June to complete their work obligation.

HOW MANY MONTHS DOES A 10-MONTH TEACHER TEACH?

The following is excerpted from Mr. Schuh’s letter to an interested student. “Finally, teachers enjoy tremendous pension, health care and vacation benefits as well as a nine-month work year.

FACT

Teachers on a 191-day work year generally begin that year in mid-August and finish in mid-June. That is a 10-month year, and those who work it are identified as “10-month employees.” Educators with 193 to 210-day work years begin their work year earlier and or finish later.