The unions and Democrats have called Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker the anti-Christ. They have claimed that his recent collective bargaining reforms would destroy public education. Lo and behold, these threats are turning out to be a lot of hot air blown out by groups of thugs vying for relevancy and not wanting to release their parasitic stranglehold over taxpayers. According to a recent article by Bryon York of the Washington Examiner, many school districts in Wisconsin are seeing benefits from Walker’s reforms. In fact, one school district in particular has seen immediate improvements despite all the predictions of gloom and doom.
Kaukauna School District was struggling and facing a deficit of $400,000, but a day after Walker’s law was signed the school officials began putting new policies into effect that are projected to turn the district’s budget deficit into a $1.5 million surplus. Teachers and staff are now required to pay 12.6% of their health coverage (compared to 10% before), and contribute 5.8% of their salary to pensions (compared to 0% before). These changes alone will save the school district an estimated $1.2 million a year.
In addition,the district can now negotiate with any health insurance coverage group instead of just a group called WEA Trust (a company created by the teacher’s union). This year, WEA Trust told the school district that they were going to have to increase their premiums significantly, so the district decided it was time to shop around for better prices. Because of the district’s threat of dropping their coverage, WEA Trust immediately changed their position so that they’d match the lowest bid. These new terms will save the district substantial amounts of money on health coverage.
Teachers will also be asked to work 40 hours a week at school instead of 37.5 hours a week. Additionally, pay increases and benefits will transition to a merit based system, which will save the district money and allow them to hire more teachers. “These changes mean that the district can reduce the size of its classes — from 31 students to 26 students in high school and from 26 students to 23 students in elementary school. In addition, there will be more teacher time for one-on-one sessions with troubled students.”
Overall, these changes will improve the classroom experience for all students while at the same time saving taxpayer’s money and putting the school’s budget back in the black. The fight over collective bargaining reform has been ugly in Wisconsin, but once people notice the improvements it will bring this next school year, the more Governor Walker’s decision will be justified. Freedom works when given the chance, and in Kaukauna district’s case it is working wonders. Hopefully many other states like California will realize it is time to embrace collective bargaining reform and pass Right to Work laws.