The Brandon School Division’s annual compensation disclosure report, which lists all employees who made $50,000 or more, is now available to the public.
And as you can read in yesterday’s Sun, nearly all of the division’s 627 teachers made the list.
According to the report, of the 624 BSD teachers mentioned in the report, more than 32 per cent of them made between $50,000 and $70,000 in the year ending Dec. 21, 2013. Nearly 36 per cent made between $70,000 and $80,000, and more than 32 per cent of division teachers took home between $80,000 and $100,000.
In short, most of the teachers earn a strong wage for educating Brandon’s students. And as the graph below this column shows, the majority of our teachers make between $70,000 and $100,000.
Salaries for teachers — and other division staff such as principals, vice-principals, cleaning staff and other office personnel — make up approximately 85 per cent of the annual budget, leaving 15 per cent of a yearly budget to run division services and maintain buildings.
Brandon Teachers’ Association president Alison Johnston says that teachers’ salaries in Brandon are "in line with the rest of the province," and we really have no reason to doubt that fact.
But school divisions are at the mercy of arbitrators when it comes to teacher salaries. It comes down to either negotiation or binding arbitration for teachers, who don’t have the right to strike in this province.
As a result, salary costs continue to inflate, as arbitrators look around the province for comparable increases. And that’s the case in school divisions across the province, not just in Brandon.
School staff continue to be very well compensated in areas other than their paycheques, including pensions and vacations.
So when Johnston says that salaries and benefits need to be competitive in order to "attract the most competent people for positions," we are forced to take that explanation with a grain of salt.
The association’s four-year collective agreement expired on June 30 and negotiations for a new contract are slated to begin later this fall. If comments made by Brandon School Division board chair Mark Sefton earlier this year are correct, there is a possibility the teachers union will push for a similar level of salary increases that police and firefighters have been getting in the past months.
The Sun has repeatedly reported on the growing salaries that have been won by police and firefighter unions, and other public sector employees, increases have far exceeded the rate of inflation for several years.
This is not to say that those who work in the public sector don’t deserve a good wage. But these increases cannot be sustained forever, and the possibility that the teachers union is chasing similar increases is worrisome.
As an aside, we also note that the school division does not post these salary numbers online, even though they are supposed to be publicly available. Of course, they can be accessed upon a request made to the school division, but in this digital age, that is simply not good enough.
Until only a few short years ago, the City of Brandon had a similar policy regarding its public sector compensation report, until sustained pressure from the Sun prompted the reports be made fully public online.
We suggest the Brandon School Division follow the city’s lead.