Teacher salaries more than 'reasonable'

While starting my fire this morning, a guest column in your June 15 paper caught my eye. Although a bit outdated, I believe it is relevant to current circumstances.

In that column, educator Lorrie Callaway bemoaned the "fact" that teachers do not make enough money. She said that teachers understand when they enter the field that "we were not going to have overflowing bank accounts." They do expect "reasonable salaries," however.

So let's take a look at the salaries. The RSU 13 superintendent's office told me that a teacher starting today with no experience at all would be paid $36,250 per year. When comparing this with other professions, however, we have to take into account that teacher contracts are for only about 180 days per year, whereas most workers get paid for 260 days per year. Since we can't compare apples with oranges, we have to do some very simple math, and we find that a beginning teacher with just a bachelor's degree in education and no experience starts at the rate of $52,361 per year (if they worked 260 days per year, like the rest of us). Pediatric nurses with a bachelor's degree start at considerably less than that. In fact, I would think that one would have a very hard time finding any publicly employed bachelor's-level worker who starts at a rate anywhere near the teachers' starting salary!

Teachers brag about watering the plants in their classroom over the summer, but ask the superintendent how easy it is to get them to work on a committee to develop a new curriculum over the summer. They and their union reps will scream bloody murder and at the very least demand even more money from the "out of contract" line in the budget.

Ms. Callaway pleads for "reasonable salaries," but they are already being paid so much it is very unreasonable to the taxpayers, who are forced to sell land that has been in their families for generations. To make it reasonable, teachers would have to take a huge pay cut, and then they would see what the majority of us taxpayers have to live with in the real world.

Don Saastamoinen

Rockland

Time for a new contract?

After reading the recent Courier-Gazette article entitled “RSU13 school staff calls for respect, contract” three times, one quote in particular prompted this letter. The quote from RSU Board Chairman Steve Roberts, says “The RSU is already providing above the state average compensation and benefits that exceed our surrounding communities. We are working to keep our overall compensation package more attractive and generous than the surrounding area while being fair to the local hardworking and/or retired property owners.” If that statement is, in fact true, then I think maybe the Seacoast Education Association members should consider cutting back on their demands. If, on the other hand, this statement is false, then I see a number of problems, the most important being the veracity of the statement issued by Roberts.

I probably should have started my thoughts with a couple of disclaimers. One would be that I am a former teacher, thus I tend to side with teachers, although since I own properties in both Owls Head and South Thomaston, I also am a taxpayer in RSU 13, so I understand people’s feelings when it comes to tax increases.

Also, my wife works as a secretary (whoops, I mean administrative assistant!) at Oceanside High School, so I might be accused of being biased, especially since I myself am now on her insurance policy. I can’t argue that point, but I will say that I know she does a good, maybe even great, job, but hasn’t had a new contract for three years.

For seven years she worked at RDMS, then TGS, 231 days a year, one day less than the number required for full benefits. Obviously, no one cared about that; in fact, that’s just the way the School Board wanted it (same as many businesses that hire people for just enough hours so you don’t have to pay full benefits, a common and, I guess, ethical enough practice, especially if you really don’t care about your employees). When she came to the high school last year, her job was cut by 20 days, as were the days of other support staff, this being another cost-saving strategy. It does seem to me, biased as I am, that after working 30 years in the district, my wife deserves a new contract, unless she is already being paid more generously than administrative assistants with similar years of experience in surrounding districts, which she might well be.

So, back to Mr. Roberts’ statement; he patently indicates that our RSU staff is compensated more generously than surrounding districts, and that might well be true, with all things considered, I really don’t know. What I do know, because it is listed in the article, is that a starting teacher at RSU 13 will earn $36,250; in The Five-Town Community School District he/she will earn $38,584, which appears to be more, but then again, I taught Latin, not math. SAD 40 comes in at $35,752, which is obviously less. The top salary in RSU 13 is $63,889; at Five-Town it is $71,863 — isn’t that considerably higher? At SAD 40, top earners receive $67,528, again seeming to be somewhat higher.

Now, probably there are other factors, such as health/dental insurance, etc., which, when added in, make RSU 13’s overall compensation “more attractive and generous” than these other school districts. I think the overall compensation package, tutti inclusi, as they say in Italian, should be published in the newspaper so that we can truly see how they compare.

It appears that Mr. Roberts’ statement is not factual (I don’t know if he is being mendacious or if it is fake news or we just don’t have all the facts); laying everything out for the public to see (transparency is the new buzzword!) would be the way to go, in my view. That way we taxpaying residents of RSU 13 would know if the RSU 13 teachers and support staff are asking for too much for Christmas this year (after all, they’ve gotten nothing but coal the last few years), or if Mr. Roberts and his band are simply playing the role of Scrooge.

Bill Curtis

South Thomaston

Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

Christmas is almost here and I've been a very good girl this year. I hope you will visit my house on Christmas Eve. I promise to leave milk and cookies for you. Oh, and note for Rudolph.

Here is my Christmas Wish List:

1. An American Girl doll named Nanea

2. An American Girl doll that looks like me.

3. On named Kit Kittredge, who fits a bunk bed

Thank you for reading my letter.

Merry Christmas, Santa!

Love,

Nadia

Noteworthy says thanks

The Noteworthy card makers would like to thank Sondra and Zoot Coffee for lending their friendly and fragrant space for Noteworthy's annual holiday card sale during the Christmas By the Sea weekend. All proceeds from the sale will go directly to Partners in Health, which strives to bring the benefits of modern medicine and health care to those most in need. This year the holiday sale raised $1,400.

For many years, Zoot has supported Noteworthy's efforts by displaying and selling our handmade cards. We want to thank Sondra for her very generous ongoing support and all who purchase our cards throughout the year.

Donna Janville

Camden