In the coming years, Hopkins Public Schools will have to tackle many complex issues. Patch asked this year’s School Board candidates about how they’d handle some of the major issues facing the district.
Today’s question is:
- How would you balance employee compensation and fiscal responsibility when negotiating labor contracts?
The teachers and staff in the Hopkins school district deserve the highest commendation for the great work that they do to serve our students. Many truly go above and beyond, put in countless hours, and treat their jobs as a labor of love. They should be rewarded for their efforts.
With any budget, there are always trade offs and compromises to be made. As a school board director, my approach will be to be as open and honest about our financial situation as possible. I’m committed to thoughtful planning and considering the long-term impact of our decisions. I care about the future financial health of the district, because 25 years from now, my kids will still be learning at Hopkins schools.
Negotiations are an important part of the process, and I believe that the Hopkins staff also cares deeply about the future of our schools. Knowing that we have shared goals gives me optimism that we can reach agreements that are beneficial for all parties.
As a school board member, I try to look at the budget from the point of view of what needs to be accomplished for our students. Most of the general fund budget goes towards staff compensation. They are responsible for delivering the educational program on a day-to-day basis. The Hopkins School District has a very strong, dynamic and relevant educational program and it requires a strong staff to meet the needs of our students. We have provided the funds necessary for a great staff and to maintain a significant fund balance that provides a cushion for our cash flow and for some fluctuations in our funding sources. I believe that is the leadership role of a school board member.
I would base decisions on local standards for compensation for specific jobs. I would expect that employee performance standards were in place and that a performance review process is in place. Fiscal responsibility is paramount.
Benchmarking neighboring districts, set priority based on academic return.
Being an educator myself, I am well aware of the issues related to labor contract negotiations. Deep down, most people would support higher wages for staff, both licensed teachers and support staff, as we know most people don't go into education for the financial rewards. The reality is we have a limited amount of funds that are available for education and a group of deserving people trying to earn a living while doing something they are skilled at and have a passion for. In the Hopkins Schools, over 400 of our licensed teachers hold a Masters degree or better. Further, over 200 have been with the district for over 15 years. The job of the school board is to be fiscally responsible, while retaining and attracting qualified and dedicated staff.