MIDDLETON, Wis. - Employees in the Middleton-Cross Plains School District are receiving across-the-board raises, but homeowners won't be seeing an increase in taxes.
The district is spreading some $642,000 out across about 940 full-time employees. Part of that is a raise that will remain over time, along with a one-time extra bonus. School district leaders said they were motivated to make changes after workers lost wages when state laws were changed earlier this year, requiring them to pay more for health care and pensions.
"It's a great part of what we do, is getting to know the kids and their families," said orchestra teacher Steve Kurr.
His own family's budget will see a small increase thanks to a vote from the school board on Monday night. Teachers like Kurr will see a raise of 1.07 percent. Other staff like custodians and clerks will see a pay increase of 1 percent. Employees will also see a bonus of $218-$500, WISC-TV reported.
"Of course it's nice to see that. It's also nice to know that our school district sees they want to treat the teachers with great respect and the other staff in the building," said Kurr. "I can put a little more away for what might happen in the future."
Superintendent Don Johnson gave school employees a breakdown of the pay changes during a meeting Tuesday afternoon.
"Everybody in the district ended up paying more for insurance, everybody ended up paying more for (pension)," said Johnson.
Johnson said the board's goal was to offset at least some of the wage decrease for employees. They were able to do that while also giving taxpayers a bonus as well, as the school portion of property taxes goes down an average of $67 on a $303,000 home.
"Somebody might see an increase, but on average, they'll see a decrease," said Johnson.
These raises are the kind of changes Gov. Scott Walker said would come with the passage of Act 10, and district officials said the law did free up money for the district. The raises were also possible because the district's increasing enrollment allowed them to put away more money, according to Johnson.
So with the raises, are Walker's policy changes becoming music to this orchestra teacher's ears?
"It take the sting off, it certainly doesn?t make up the entire amount," said Kurr. "We're all doing a little more work for the same or less pay than we had before."
The raises are retroactive to either July or September, depending on contracts. Employees will see the money in their Dec. 15 paychecks.
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