Teachers approve fact-finder report, strike authorization

Teachers approve fact-finder report, strike authorization

Apparently Toledo teachers are happy with the fact finders report and get wage increases. But what changes were made in a contract that has language that impedes the ability of the board to improve academic performance? Will taxes have to increase or spending decrease (code for layoffs and school closings)? Are those living in Toledo willing to raise their property taxes to pay for this? Will the Board of Education approve the fact finder's report? Will they release the entire report now that most of facts have already leaked out so that all of us citizens can weigh in and understand the details?

So many questions - but are there answers - will we get answers - will the board do the right thing and let those of us who pay the bills know what it will cost us and release the fact finder report?

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Okay Dale answer this question for me. While you may (and I am guessing certainly will) disagree with me on just about everything I'll post about the TFT, contract language, etc. regarding the proposed contract and fact finder report, do you believe the Board of Education should release the fact finder report so that those of us paying the bills know what it will cost us especially since most of the details have been leaked and those facts that have not certainly will be leaked to the media before the Board votes? Please answer the question and tell us why.

Here is the latest as reported by the local daily - Teachers accept back-pay report from fact finder. And it appears that it has all been leaked as some said would happen - no reason now that the Board should not release the entire report to the public.

I find it ironic that you, Mr. Fagg, use the Toledo Blade as you resource.

I read all local media sources. The local daily has printed the details of the fact finder report as leaked by those attending the meeting. Why would I not link to what was in the article?

Are you implying that I never agree with anything printed or included in editorials in the local daily? Actually, the article was pretty factual, appeared well written and as far as I can tell did not editorialize in a news story. I can't vouch for the accuracy of the facts, but I'm guessing them to be fairly accurate based upon what I have heard through the grapevine.

Sandy, I'm not sure why you would make such a statement? But I sure can speculate. BTW - did you ever read my response to Peggy as published on-line by the Free Press? If not, you should!

Over 2000 teachers have the fact-finder's report. It would seem that copies are available for the general public. The secrecy issue is part of the negotiations process. It is disheartening for employees to see their contract in print or on the internet before they have had an opportunity to see it.
I would use this opportunity to make an important point. The last two TPS treasurers have been the roadblocks to a stable employer-employee environment between the TPS Board and administration on one side and the teachers on the other. Both current treasurer, Dan Romano, and his predecessor, Jim Fortlage have made extremely negative fiscal forecasts that have, invariably, proved to be nonsense. Every year for the past five years TPS has had a large carryover (surplus) in its general fund. Five years ago, Fortlage convinced all five TPS Board members -- behind closed doors, in executive session -- to vote against a neutral fact-finder's report after both Fortlage and Eugene Sanders had pledged to support the report in front of TFT representatives and the fact-finder! In January, a two person team, one appointed by the TFT and the other appointed by TPS management, analyzed TPS finances and concluded that TPS could afford to pay the 1.48% retroactivity. Now, a third neutral finding has been conducted concluding that the money is there to pay the retroactivity and other very modest raises. Dan Domano won his main arguments. There will be no "me, too" clause in the TFT contract, and there will be no commitment beyond the two years that Romano said he could certify. If Dan Romano now convinces a majority on the TPS Board to turn down yet another neutral person's assessment, it is his credibility that must be assessed. Dan Romano predicted a $12,000,000 deficit for the TPS general fund for the last fiscal year in late May. That "deficit" turned into a surplus of nearly $19,000,000! All I can end with is that the only reason a "strike authorization" vote was taken and passed, is because TPS teachers were lied to before by the treasurers who can't add straight. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Dale, I see your points. I obviously don't know what was promised by Fortlage and Sanders on the meetings you refer to and unless you were in the meetings (were you?) then you also are going on hearsay.

I don't dispute the independent review, but I know that they did not consider the certification requirements per ORC 5705.412 which impact the ability of such payments to be made under Ohio statute. I read the entire report.

I will say that this is going to adversely impact out years (beyond year 2 of the financial forecast) for financial planning. I also believe that this payment can only be made with additional cuts which makes me wonder how Romano will be able to certify it since it would require Board action which he can not guarantee will be taken. Of course there could be a new levy, but by law the treasurer can not make this assumption when certifying the agreement. So I expect some vague statement about cutting expenses when the administration is challenged about the future impact - and they will be you can be sure of that. The financial outlook for the out years after 2008 look even more tenuous with the elimination of the tangible personal property tax after the taxpayer’s tax year of 2008 - that is another loss of revenue for school districts.

Also, any financial forecast is just that a forecast "or best educated guess". Assumptions can change either positively or negatively and even a $20 million change is only 5% of the total budget which while a little on the high side is not an unusual situation given the nature of forecasts. The extra money in the health care fund most likely results from the need to be conservative when projecting such costs. Since TPS is self insured, a major medical situation for just a few employees could blow a lot of this surplus quickly. But if you have been following what I have written, you will know that I have questioned the surplus as well.

There are many reasons for the change in the forecast - generally due to cuts made in current budget years that are not required to be identified in the out years of the five year forecast.by state law - only that the budget be balanced when a budget for the upcoming school year is voted upon by the board.

So if I understand you correctly, you agree that the report should be officially released by the board since 2000 teachers have it and so does the media. In fact, I too have the information as my teaching friends were kind enough to show me.

I also understand why a strike authorization vote was taken - it was to apply political pressure!

I'll post more about why I think the me too clauses should be eliminated - there are some very good reasons, except for maybe union members.

As far as what the TPS Board should do considering releasing the fact-finder's report, that's up to them. I do not make policy for TFT, so I certainly do not make policy for TPS. My personal concern is that the affected employees should find out what is in their contract before the information is made public. That has been done. I'm happy about that.
I may not like many of your positions, but I thought that you had some intellectual integrity. You have often found fault with TPS financial information. As fellow business persons, you and I know that financial projections can be based upon a "best case" scenario, a "worst case" scenario, or a "reasonable person" scenario. Now you defend the ludicrous, "worst case" projections of Fortlage and Romano that have proved to be grossly inaccurate time and again. But, of course, Romano's projections support your wanting to keep TPS teachers' salaries low. How can your conscience allow you to do that?!
Romano was off, not by $20,000,000, which would be bad enough, but over $30,000,000. Romano was this far off, not one year ahead, but 5-6 weeks before the end of the last fiscal year!
I am a treasurer too. It's a part time job on a much smaller budget. I get quarterly reports, and can get monthly reports if I see some major problem. If I were off by 8-9% a few weeks before the end of the fiscal year, I would resign my position. That's the honorable thing to do! Yes! I am clearly stating that Dan Romano does such a poor job that he should do the honorable thing and seek other employment.
If you read the fact-finder's report, the "me, too" clause is eliminated for TFT, and the teachers accepted that. But this is so typical of you. You are arguing with TFT over something that TFT lost and accepted as a loss. Steve, don't you think that the "me, too" parts of the TAAP and AFSCME contracts should be eliminated, too? The only TPS union you consistantly question is TFT.
Why don't you start investigating the quality of the people represented by TAAP? One incompetent administrator can ruin the learning environment in an entire building! And while TFT participates in removing ineffective teachers, TAAP does little to nothing to eliminate poorly performing administrators. You relish attacking TFT President, Fran Lawrence. Why does TAAP President, Dave McClellan, get a "free ride" from you?

Dale, again I agree with you that forecasts can be based upon several scenarios as you suggested. Prior to striking out on my own I was a controller and then VP of Finance so I know intimately the perils of forecasting. I'm the type that budgets very conservatively where possible but also looks at the upside. Usually, we ended up with a forecast that was deemed most likely with a range of forecasts used to give us the upside and downside.

You are also right about the actual surplus in the general fund and health care account and I pointed this out back in February during the levy campaign. So let me point out, again publicly, the large change in the forecast and the surpluses.

Here is what was in our official "levy flyer":

TPS had a surplus of $18 million at the end of FY2007 and is projecting a $21 million surplus at the end of this school year. In addition, there may be more than a $10 million surplus in the account for health care. That amounts to more than a $31million surplus.

By the way, the Blade ripped us for making the statement above. I don't see where you get the $30 million swing since I just looked at the forecasts in my files and online over such a short period. I do see a $12 million dollar deficit shown for the 2006 forecast for FY2008. So in this time frame you would be correct. If you are using the projected $10 million in the health care account, that would be inappropriate in your comments about the swing on the forecasts. As I said earlier, I would have wanted to err with a "worst case" scenario there given that the district is self insured.

For the past several years, forecasts have been generated and published per state statute twice a year in November and May. I have looked at each and every one of them for 10 years now and compared the changes and identified the cause of the changes. I have quite a file - paper and electronically. Certainly the previous forecast would have been cited up until May of this year or any previous year. So I can see how you would say the swing would have occurred over a 5 week period although I’m not sure where you get the large swing. Until a new forecast is complete and known, it is quite likely the old numbers would have been used and quoted.

However, you are using a "worst case" scenario without giving the reader the full context. But hey, if it helps your case to leave the context out, but still be technically correct, I can understand the statement.

Keep in mind we are only talking about the general fund which is about 70-80% of the total operating budget on an annual basis. So if we use the total number the percentage change would decrease even in your analysis.

As I stated earlier, "There are many reasons for the change in the forecast - generally due to cuts made in current budget years that are not required to be identified in the out years of the five year forecast.by state law - only that the budget be balanced when a budget for the upcoming school year is voted upon by the board." So the out years of a forecast from forecast to forecast can show some big changes based upon cuts made that then impact future year’s surpluses/deficits. In those situations large swings are possible. In addition, sometimes the state changes the amount of state funding between forecasts and by law they can not be projected until the legislature passes the funding bill - so let's be fair and recognize this as well.

We have to put this all into context when looking at your allegations!

I know that the past treasurers have sent interim statements to the Board when they identify significant changes - I have seen many as the result of "open record requests". They are not always made public and there is no state requirement that they do so.

Now if you believe I'm defending the administration, I probably won't change your mind. But this discussion is not just about you and me since we are discussing and debating this in a public forum.

I don't want to keep teachers salaries low. I have publicly stated that teaching should be highly paid. In fact earlier today I posted this at Glass City Jungle, "Frankly I believe teachers should be highly paid but in return should be accountable, evaluated and compensation based upon merit! This is not the case in TPS..." I went on to say it is about what this community can afford. Check it out.

As to the TAAP and AFSCME contracts, I have and will make comments publicly about their contracts as well. However, the item on the agenda here is the TFT contract. No details have yet emerged regarding the negotiations between the other bargaining units. So, it is not fair to throw that in just yet.

Regarding the "me too' clauses, I have for years been against all of them. Again, I have stated as much publicly many times. So let me say it again, THERE SHOULD BE NO "ME TOO" CLAUSES IN ANY TPS CONTRACTS!

I have also said I don't believe that principals should be in a union - they should be part of management and as such "at will" employees. Dave McClellan of TAAP would probably be surprised to hear you say I don't comment on their contract. I have never given anyone a "free ride" as you put it. A union has hurt TPS ability to retain and attract quality administrators because only one other district in the state has an administrators union and TPS administrators are free to cut the best possible deal with other school districts – a competitive disadvantage!

I can also say that one poor teacher can impact literally hundreds of students over the years. I have consistently said that all employees should be regularly evaluated using a 360 approach which includes all parties interacting with the individual being evaluated. But of course many including you don't feel that parents should have any role in evaluating the areas where the employee interacts with them.

Finally, I don't relish nor do I attack anyone!!! I will comment on behavior, public statements, etc. I doubt you can find a statement I have made that is personal. Although questioning someone's judgment, public statements or behavior might to some seem a personal attack.

Finally, let's finish with your statement, "I may not like many of your positions, but I thought that you had some intellectual integrity." At least at some time in the past you must have thought I had intellectual integrity. It is unfortunate that you have changed your mind. But frankly I have consistently operated on the same set of principles and will continue to do so. I make mistakes from time to time and get called on it. I also find those mistakes myself and correct them as soon as I am aware with or without being called on it. I also don't present all sides in a debate as that is not required or needed since that is the province and responsibility of those who are debating the other side.

I also know that several thousand TPS employees, their families, friends and supporters are looking over my shoulder. If I intentionally misrepresented the facts again and again, it would be out everywhere. As to this statement of integrity, I think the same standard could be applied to you based upon the facts and that you consistently take one side of the argument or leave out the context. Do you intentionally leave out context?

I know it can be difficult in the midst of a discussion, but let’s stick with the debate and let others form their own opinions regarding our intellectual integrity.

I fully understand giving one side of an argument. That's what good debaters do. The "intellectual integrity" regards your citing surpluses in the TPS budget to oppose school levies, even renewals. You then accept projections that show steep deficits to justify opposing teacher salary increases. Which is it? Is TPS flush or destitute? You argue both ways, even in this latest blog entry.
Let's deal with accountability. TPS has the most challenging first year teacher "Intern" program in the nation. In a normal year, 8-10% of new teachers are non-renewed, compared to 0% non-renewals in several years before the Toledo Plan was in effect. No matter what I write, I know that you hate the Toledo Plan, but it does get poor practitioners out of TPS, and it has been copied by over 100 school districts around the world!. (Most non-renewed interns go on to teach in other schools where standards are lower.)
One thing that frustrates me is that the Toledo Federation of Teachers is considered to be on the cutting edge of true school reform everywhere but in Toledo! The TFT has taken unprecedented steps that unions just don't do, to provide our students with the best quality teachers available. This stems from the basic concept that most teachers, and Dal Lawrence was one of these, don't want to teach with colleagues who don't do the job well. We care too much about the children we teach to allow that! To you, it's all about power. To us, it's all about quality instruction!
Under the Intervention component of this plan, any poorly performing teacher, even a 32 year veteran like myself, can be fired! How many teacher unions allow that? How many unions of any kind participate in the firing of dues-paying members?
Excellent teachers are rewarded via the TRACS program. If they are willing to be observed extensively and do additional work, they can earn money over and above the salary schedule. To get to higher levels, they must give up seniority rights and be willing to work in challenging positions. How many unions of any type force members to give up seniority rights in order to earn more money? If we have a reasonable salary schedule that a teacher can only access if they prove themselves by passing through the Intern Program, and we have a TRACS Program to reward teachers who prove themselves to be exemplary and willing to do more work, even give up seniority rights, isn't this a form of merit pay? Does "merit pay" only come in one acceptable package? Steve, you just can't admit that anything TFT does is done for the betterment of our students.
Once more, I'll address the "personal" part of our disagreements. Many years ago, I cited an organization that you headed in a Blade letter. I didn't mention you by name. You addressed the TPS Board and wrote a letter of which you gave copies to the Superintendent, TPS Board members, and the TFT president. This letter to my employer was quite critical and used my name. That was a blatant attempt to intimidate me, and you know it! I tried to be professional. You made things personal.

It seems like you want to twist the situation to meet your objectives. I fully expected the debate to head in this direction.

I pointed out that the district had surpluses and enough funds without a levy renewal for the near term.

The levy renewal passed and it is now to be used for increased teacher compensation.

I also stated in the local daily that I wanted to send a message to the district and that I would be willing to negotiate the issues and could support the renewal in the fall. So we need to take the two issues into context once again.

The current accord and those likely to be negotiated by the other collective bargaining units place the future in jeopardy and will require higher taxes, budget cuts or both. I ask the question: Can Toledo afford it?

You can't take part of it and manipulate it into hypocrisy and maintain intellectual integrity in the debate.

I don't hate the Toledo Plan although there are many that do. I have indicated that it was established basically to mentor new teachers but morphed into let's fire the teachers after the accountability movement gained momentum in the late 80's and throughout the 90's. I think the mentoring part is great. I just don't believe unions should do the hiring and firing and that is what is happening with this program. And there are more issues some of which were addressed in the Kaboolian report.

I'm not going to debate at this time why it looks good here in Toledo and gets accolades elsewhere except to say we are closer to the situation and familiarity has breed scrutiny and contempt.

I have addressed some of the merit pay issues over at Glass City Jungle - it can come in many forms.

I don't see the TRACS program as addressing my concerns.

So one more time we must revisit the past and your letter and my response. Okay, for a moment anyway. You wrote a letter and made it public in the local daily reader's forum. You commented in a public forum and therefore made yourself a public figure. Since the institution you worked for was a public entity and I and other taxpayers pay your salary I had every right to make my concerns known to those leading a public institution.

You seem to be harboring a grudge and one must ask if that has clouded your judgment with regard to me.

Dale, we need to get past it. That was 10 years ago. But you gotta do what you gotta do.

Steve,
You raised the issue of getting personal. I merely pointed out that you got personal a long time ago when I was impersonal. If either of us holds a grudge, it's you!
I understand the risks of "going public". I've received my share of hate mail and phone calls. You can't duck the fact that you tried to intimidate me, and you don't even deny it. The only other person to try to do that was Alan Abrams, the infamous "Blade runner".
For those who may not have read some other submissions I've made on this website, let me clearly state my personal position regarding TPS's teachers salaries. I grew up in the inner city in a very modest household. My wife and I live frugally and our children are grown, successful professionals, and financially independent. We have a more than adequate income.
My concern is for the future of TPS. How is Toledo going to attract teachers to replace my wife and me if we don't have competitive salaries? This is especially true since we have the most challenging entry year program in the nation, and an ongoing program to police veteran teachers as well.
And Steve you are dead wrong about the Toledo Plan being formulated as a mentoring porgram, and morphing into a "fire the teachers" plan. The Toledo Plan developed from Dal Lawrence watching Toledo students being taught by a small number of poor practitioners who were mostly ignored by supervising administrators. When administrators did try to fire bad teachers, in those days, the union represented the teachers to ensure due process was followed, and usually saved the teacher's job because management screwed up the case against the teacher!
Like most teachers, Dal did not want his students to receive less than the best teaching available. He devised a plan, similar to that in medicine and the skilled trades, to have new teachers supervised by skilled veteran teachers from a similar area of teaching. Yes, Dal Lawrence wanted to fire bad teachers. Yes, he took a lot of heat from other union activists, especially teacher union activists. But he held firm. If Dal had his way, bad teachers would not be teaching for long in Toledo.
Was mentorship an important component of this process? Yes, it was and is! But firing bad teachers was always at the heart of the program, including veteran teachers who have lost "it" or never had "it".
In the skilled trades, master tradespersons police their apprentices. In the medical field, experienced doctors scrutinize interns and residents. Why in the world, if we really want to have the best possible teachers, should anyone but experienced teachers supervise those entering the teaching profession?
I was in retail business, dealing with the general public, for 15 years before I started teaching. Our customers were people from all backgrounds and all levels of society. From my extensive experiences, teachers are among the most conscientious, caring people in our community.
Teachers express so much sadness when people like you, Steve, say persistently in public forums in your own way that teachers are avaricious and callous. These types of comments certainly do nothing to elevate the level of the debate. More importantly, such negative comments do nothing to attract the best and the brightest to teach Toledo's children.

You must have a grudge or something cause here we go again putting words into my mouth, "Teachers express so much sadness when people like you, Steve, say persistently in public forums in your own way that teachers are avaricious and callous."

Stop it Dale! I challenge you to find such comments in writing or provide evidence that I said any such thing in a public setting. I have in fact stated my respect for teachers on many occasions! I have asked the question as to whether Toledo can afford the fact finders' recommendations. I have also shown through research and calculating hourly wage rates that teachers as a group are not under compensated. But that sure does not justify the statement you just made and I quoted! I have never called teachers callous or avaricious.

I'll agree that you have your interpretation of the Toledo Plan. I'll also agree that there was a component that addressed intervention (not firing) of veteran teachers. But how many veteran teachers have went into intervention over the years and how many have been fired?

I'll also admit that you probably have talked with Dal Lawrence far more times than I have. But I have read articles even by Dal that still support many of my comments.

As in a previous threads when you continued these tactics, I have decided to stop commenting. I won't debate any longer with someone who resorts to making such obviously false statements that lead others to believe I am something I am not.

When you enter a public forum prepare for the barbs to come your way, too! I guess you left the kitchen. Poor Stevie. Was the heat too intense?
I never said that you used the words "avaricious" or "callous", but that's exactly what you mean. When you say that teachers want a level of compensation to which you don't think they are entitled, that's calling teachers "avaricious".
When you say teachers want too many students to be suspended and expelled to make their jobs easier, that's accusing teachers of being "callous".
You want teachers to held accountable, as they should be. You don't want to be held accountable, however! Face it! Your words hurt people, most of whom lead lives consumed with helping Toledo's children.
You love -- you relish -- being in the spotlight, unless the glare gets too bright. Then you skulk away and hide behind your computer screen.
There, there Stevie...all warm and cozy now? That meanie Dale will leave you alone. I promise!

Wow

Well I will relent this one time because I can't let such a vicious pack of lies stand without calling it what it is. But I do vow to stop and not be taunted again.

I have made no such remarks. And again I challenge you to provide proof and there are plenty of written materials, blog entries, media interviews, etc. that you can draw upon to prove your point if such comments exist. Find them!! You twist meanings, interpret comments any way your imagination suits you, inaccurately paraphrase, take comments out of context and create out right fabrications that are vicious and vindictive. And then you resort to taunting me because I realize a futile effort when I see one and say enough is enough.

BTW - I doubt anyone believes I skulk away. Been doing this far too long but it does become a futile effort to debate someone that resorts to one ad hominem argument after another.

"A great many people think they are thinking when they are really rearranging their prejudices."... William James

Steve, really...touchy, touchy.
You have never said that Toledo teachers don't need a raise because, on an hourly basis, they are well compensated?
You have never said that there are too many suspensions because teachers don't want to deal with problem children?
I guess someone must be posing as you, because it sure sounded like your voice on the Troy Neff Show talking about how well paid Toledo teachers are! And, when the Urban Coalition held press conferences complaining about the suspensions, I guess that someone dressed up like you at those news conferences
I apologize. The impressions fooled me!
"I tolerate with the utmost latitude the right of others to differ from me in opinion." Thomas Jefferson

I was not defending TPS or the treasurer when I made comments about the forecasts, I was simply indicating why forecasts could be inaccurate and that I understand why there would be swings. I never said I accepted the forecasts, but I do think they generally reflect the circumstances. However, the way these forecasts are generated given the rules applied always causes me to pause and ask a lot of questions. And I don't think the TFT can do this any better than the treasurer so why should I accept their interpretations when I know they also have an agenda: to show that money is available to justify further salary increases. I look at both sides with a skeptics eye.

Further, I did not use the wide swing as a point to advocate the defeat of the renewal levy, but to show the size of the surplus to indicate that there was no immediate need to renew the levy unless the district went on a spending binge. So, just another example of how you can say one thing and someone else can use it to beat you over the head when that was not what you said.

You can give everyone all the money in the world, but if you don't pay on performance the results won't change. We can have the highest step scale in the nation, but nothing will change because the good teachers make the same amount as the worst teachers and that is not fair to the good teachers.

Chris, as you know we both agree on this point!

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