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West Bend teacher questions School Board on stipends from last school year

Teachers say they are being refused compensation promised to them

By Callie Gay

For the Daily News dailynews@conleynet.com

WEST BEND — During the Public Participation portion of the West Bend School Board meeting Monday night, Sally Heuer, a teacher at West Bend West, addressed the Board as a member of the Executive Board of the West Bend Educators Association and, on behalf of the WBEA, asked that the district pay its veteran teachers the stipends they were promised for the 2017-18 school year.

The room was filled with West Bend district teachers that came to show their support of Heuer as she reminded the Board that, as of now, veteran teachers have been refused the pay they earned through the stipend program and, though they were told there would be a new teacher compensation plan, they have not been officially told that the district is no longer honoring what they promised, so they are operating under the previous plan that stated veteran teachers would be given a stipend for completing the tasks on their teacher’s scorecard.

Heuer pointed out that the district is continuing to follow other parts of the compensation plan and asked the Board why the district is choosing to ignore the part that calls for promised compensation.

“Veteran teachers work hard throughout the year, trusting that if they completed the steps in this compensation plan they would indeed earn their stipend,” she said. “We’ve done our 15 hours of professional development as required by the scorecards, sacrificing time with our families and foregoing other obligations in our personal lives to make sure that we held up our end of the deal — now it’s time for the district to uphold its end.”

She added that instead of compensating its veteran teachers, the district claims that there isn’t money to honor the original plan and pay the stipends, but that they do have enough money to add new positions to the district staff and questioned whether it was wise to add new employees rather than secure the pay and benefits of teachers who have dedicated years of their lives to the West Bend district schools.

Heuer said that choosing not to pay the promised stipends — added with the new cut in benefits this year — will mean that most veteran teachers stand to earn less take-home pay this year than they did last year and in previous years, and will continue the trend of dwindling take home pay for veteran teachers in the West Bend School District.

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“This sends the message to all teachers that experience is not valued here and leaves veteran teachers wondering if we can afford to stay.” she said.

Lastly, Heuer added that the WBEA recommends that the district honors the commitment made to veteran teachers by paying them the stipends they earned the previous year.

In other news, the Board unanimously approved the elimination of technical math as a high school course beginning in the 2019-20 school year. The board also approved the addition of four high school courses — intro to algebra 2 and three contextual english classes — beginning in the 2019-20 school year.

The 2018-19 tax levy was presented to the Board and unanimously approved, showing that the mill rate — property tax dollars levied per $1,000 of equalized property value for the West Bend School District was reduced by 2.5 percent to $7.97.

According to data from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, the average mill rate for 2017-18 in joint school districts in Wisconsin was $9.79. For the fourth year in a row, the mill rate continues to decrease for the district and the primary reason for levy amount increase is the private school voucher program costs, as well as state aid decreases.

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