In the coming years, Minnetonka 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?
Our district benefits greatly from its highly talented teachers, administrators and staff. We must continue to offer competitive compensation packages so that we can continue to recruit and retain top applicants. However, the districts resources are already constrained and underfunded by both State and Federal Government. There are only so many resources to go around so we must work diligently to provide fair compensation that stays within our current budgetary means.
Great facilities, great people, and a great curriculum are all keys to a successful school district and as a board member, I feel that fiscal balance and responsibility extends across all 3. My perspectives on employee compensation, particularly teachers which are our largest employee group are to: provide an attractive starting salary for new teachers entering our district, incrementally reward our teachers for experience and professional growth, and have a salary scale that allows us to retain our best and most experienced teachers. Benefits are another component of compensation that we need to thoughtfully provide for all employees. I have provided input into many conversations and seen the administration work diligently to evaluate many different options and leverage the size of the district to choose the plan options that bring the highest cost-benefit to our employees. Salary and Benefits are almost 80% of our districts expense in an education system that is about 80% funded by the government. Our funding sources and minimal annual increases are well delineated. We need to work transparently with our labor partners to ensure we are providing them the best options available to us, but also living within our State and Federal funding means.
The School Board needs a holistic approach to strike the delicate balance between financial stewardship and investing in quality educators and programs. Balancing revenue and expenses is a reality in both business and education. My Master in Business Administration (MBA) focusing in finance and strategy combined with real world experience managing large organizations has shown me that people are not an expense, they are an asset.
My platform is based on sustaining the high level of educational excellence in Minnetonka Public Schools. This includes focusing on:
- Inspiring and supporting all students
- Attracting, developing and retaining the highest quality teachers, para professionals and administrators
- Embracing child-centered innovation
- Promoting financial stewardship
Minnetonka Public School’s ability to attract, develop and retain the high quality of teachers, para professionals and administrator is dependent upon many factors such as compensation (salary and benefit package), support and development opportunities, work load and environment.
Thanks to strong parental and community involvement (both in time and donations), the collaborative environment in Minnetonka Public Schools contributes to our district’s ability to ensure the high quality of educators and support teams.
Specific to compensation, understanding the financial realities of education funding is critical to success in negotiating the Master Agreements and contracts for all Minnetonka School District employees.
The historical underfunding of education combined with the increased pressures on the State budget will continue to drive the need for attention to both the District’s revenues and expenses.
It is the responsibility of the School Board to provide for a quality education for our students within our financial means. As a Board member, my goal is to create an agreement that values the contribution of our highly skilled staff and at the same time live within the financial means of the school district to create the world class excellence in education that the community values. Through each negotiating situation, I will strive to attain the optimal balance of each of these factors.