The Marin Post

The Voice of the Community

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Growth in teacher pay dwarfed by soaring health, retirement benefits

This report by Robert Fellner, originally posted in November, is relevant at this time and needs no explanation. I do want to emphasize that it is a statewide problem - and includes Marin schools.

As it notes,

A rapid rise in the cost of retirement and health benefits is dwarfing wage growth at many California school districts, according to an analysis of newly released 2017 public pay data.

Last year, the Los Angeles Unified School District spent $1.3 billion on health and retirement benefits for its employees, which represents a 25 percent increase from 2014. The $4.2 billion the district spent on wages, however, represented only an 11 percent increase from 2014.

Click here to read the Report

Every election cycle Marin residents see new bonds or parcel taxes on the local ballots. I have two close friends who were forced to move, after living in Kentfield for decades, because the school taxes had reached a point where it was a financial burden for them to remain in their homes.

Not everyone is rich in Marin County, as our elected officials seem to believe.

Proponents of these tax measures use "scare tactics" and are largely supported by families with young children who are told that their students will suffer educationally if the measures fail to pass. "Cuts to programs", "larger classrooms", "loss of teaching staff" - these are the threats used to promote new taxes and bonds.

The root of the problem - an unsustainable pension system - is never mentioned. This discussion needs to take place. Schools Superintendent Mary Jane Burke should focus on this issue and open this discussion instead of pretending that all is well in Marin County. It is not. Shifting the costs to taxpayers without reform of the system is a stop-gap measure, not a solution.

Ultimately, reform is the only solution.