**PLANET EXCLUSIVE** — THE SALARY AND COST FIGURES THE PITTSFIELD SCHOOL DEPARTMENT ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY DOESN’T WANT YOU TO SEE
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY AND THROUGH THE WEEKEND, AUG. 2-7, 2013) — Looking for a job? Don’t want to flip hamburgers or butter popcorn for $8 an hour, which pretty much sums up the economy in Pittsfield, Mass., Dreaded Private Sector Division? Do you want to start in at the bottom of the pay scale at, say, anywhere $35.41 (Step 1) to $52.26 (Step 5)? How about an opening pay of $62,844?
If you want such riches, wrangle a beginner’s job teaching in the Pittsfield Public School System. Talent is good, but it is not a necessary attribute. “Knowing Someone” definitely helps. Whoever said America was the land of opportunity must have had Pittsfield public schools in mind. Just make sure that in the exchange, you’re on the taking side and not on the taxpayer side.
If you get a master’s degree and work yourself up to Step 17, you will pull down $83.84 an hour — this in a profession where the practitioners are constantly complaining that they are undervalued, unappreciated, and underpaid. To exemplify this point, we only remind you of the various work-to-rule actions and the mass storming of budget meetings over the year by the teachers’ union, accompanied by The Children, aimed to scare the bejeezus out of panty-waist politicians.
The late, great Aging Greek God Peter Arlos kept warning about the “pyramid of benefits” being built up contract after contract by the teachers, and few would listen. Scared and complicit politicians, having been bought off in some way, shape, or form, were only too happy to trade their integrity for block votes. In hindsight, they created a beautiful public swindle that hinged upon the installation of public apathy, which grew year after year and could be measured by dwindling turnout for elections and the appalling lack of talent in the public-office candidate pool. We are seeing it again, in checkered fashion, in Campaign ’13. Donna Todd Rivers, for citywide office? We mean, really!
School committeeman Terry Kinnas pulled the figures we are about to present out of PPS budget data that were approved by the administration, the school committee, the mayor, and the city council with nary a bang and only the faintest of whimpers (e.g., the $200,000 “cut” in a budget that saw an overall increase of $1.66 million — kudos, Councilor Clairmont.).
These figures are based on the hours in a typical school week for 185 work days. It’s the first time anyone, anywhere has published a per-hour breakdown of the PPS teacher pay scale.
THE PLANET presents this information, which went duly ignored by officials and the local mainstream media, to help put into perspective the PPS pay scale and how it compares to the Dreaded Private Sector, which, in Pittsfield, consists mainly of minimum-wage service-sector jobs. These figures represent the same data presented by the PPS to the public, only broken down in a more tangible way. The only difference is that they are analyzed in common sense form, allowing Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski to estimate the true nature of compensation for the teaching talent in the Pittsfield Public School system.
Watch Out for that First Step, Taxpayers: It’s a Lulu
At Step 1, a new hire coming in with a bachelor’s degree makes an average of $37,056, or $30.82 an hour. If that person elects to receive taxpayer-funded health insurance, which almost all of them do, the hourly rates zoom skyward. With health insurance, the new hire will make $40 an hour for single coverage and $52.26 for family. Total compensation for the greenest of rookie teachers on the family plan insurance is $37,056 + $25,788 = $62,844. You get the idea. On and on it goes, through the various teacher pay steps. Remember, taxpayers furnish all but 15% of the health insurance costs. Taxpayers, they’re skinning you alive.
Here are the rates of compensation for teachers at Steps 5, 10, and 17 with a bachelor’s degree:
* Step 5 — Annual salary, $43,503, or $36.18 an hour. With health insurance, the hourly rates advance to $45.36 single and $57.62 family. Total compensation $43,503 + $25,788 = $68,291
* Step 10 — Annual salary, $51,565 or $42.88 an hour. With health insurance $52.06 single, $64.33 family. Total compensation, $51,565 + $25,788 = $77,353
* Step 17 — Annual salary, $63,914 or $53.15 an hour. With health insurance single $62.33, family $74.60. Total compensation $63,914 + $25,788 = $89,702
Hourly compensation, Master’s Degree
* Step 1 — Annual salary, $41,000, hourly rate $34.10. With health insurance single $43.28, family $55.54. Total compensation $41,000 + $25,788 = $66,788
* Step 5 — Annual salary, $48,130, hourly rate $40.02. With health insurance single $49.21, family $61.47. Total compensation $48,130 + $25,788 = $73,910
* Step 10 — Annual salary, $57,045, hourly rate $47.44. With health insurance single $56.62, family $68.88. Total compensation $57,075 + $25,788 = $82,863
* Step 17 — Annual salary, $75,028, hourly rate $62.39. With health insurance $71.57 single, $83.84, family. Total compensation $75,028 + $25,788 (family) = $100,816
The average total compensation for a teacher (salary plus health insurance) in Pittsfield is $74,547.50 for someone with a BA and $81,094.25 for a master’s degree.
It’s no wonder when Kinnas presented these figures to the school committee, chairman Alf Barbalunga and the others, including Mayor Dan Bianchi, tried to get him off topic ASAP. Bianchi wanted no part of it, in the same way he conveniently found it “necessary” to be absent when Kinnas was put on trial on the PPS school committee’s version of the Scopes Money Trial. For those who do not understand the reference, Google “Spencer Tracy.”
When Kinnas presented these figures, the room went silent. Fortunately, THE PLANET understands that the noise of quiet is only heard by those who are willing, just for the moment, to be deaf.
The last thing Barbalunga, the remainder of the school committee, the school administration, and Bianchi wanted was for these figures to see the light of day. No one paid attention at the school committee meeting. Perhaps they will here.
Clearly, with an annual budget approaching $100 million in total costs (school costs, operating budget, transportation, health insurance, maintenance, and other post-employment benefits) and a continuing drop in performance, the Pittsfield School Department has become a money eater offering taxpayers little of benefit in return.
Now we can present these objective, omniscient analyses until we are yellow, green, or blue in the gills, but it is up to the voting public to do something about it — or not. “Not” has been the apathetic response as of late. THE PLANET, though, having published these figures, can at least say “We told you so” when Pittsfield goes belly up down the roa, which will surely happen unless there is serious budget, compensation, and pension reform. What’s more, we will have the numbers to back up our prediction. We are not in the prophet or the profit business here on THE PLANET. We are here to give We The People information in an attempt, in vain or otherwise, to take back control of their government.
PS — Thank you, Mother Russia, for granting asylum to Edward Snowden. Kudos to Vladimir Putin and his government for having the courage to stand up to the clumsy bullying efforts of President Barack Obama and the United States and to grant a year’s asylum to Snowden, a man who, along with Jullian Assange, goes down in the annals of liberty.
“And now, while the trees stand, watching still / The unequal battle rages there. / The killing beast that cannot kill / Swells and swells in his fury till / You’d almost think it was despair.” — Edwin Muir, last stanza, “The Combat.” (1949)
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.