Public school teachers were the face of the opposition to Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10 — and they could end up absorbing some of the longest-lasting changes resulting from the controversial law.
In severely curtailing collective bargaining for teachers and other public employees, Act 10 has created a new marketplace for teachers.
Whereas nearly all teachers were once paid based on experience and education level, some Wisconsin school districts are experimenting with new ways to pay teachers.
In the Oregon School District, for example, technology education teachers receive $10,000 in supplemental pay annually for four years and a $2,500 annual retention bonus after that to remain in the district for four years.
School boards are also developing new compensation plans that take teachers’ evaluations or leadership qualities into consideration when figuring raises. Those new pay plans can cost a district more in salaries in some cases.
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Meanwhile, the influence of teachers at the state Capitol has diminished. The state’s largest teachers union, the Wisconsin Education Association Council, spent $2.5 million and $2.3 million in the two legislative sessions leading up to the passage of Act 10. But by 2013-14 the union spent just $175,540, and so far has spent $93,481 in 2015-16.
About 40,000 public school employees are represented by WEAC, down more than 50 percent from the 98,000-member levels before 2011.
At the time Walker pushed Act 10, lawmakers also slashed state funding to public schools and dropped revenue limits to lower taxes. Walker said school districts could use “tools” provided by Act 10 — getting teachers to pay more for benefits — to generate savings.
Todd Berry of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance said districts took advantage of the law, and the “‘tools’ more or less worked.”