Absent educators may be paid to abandon students and march on the CapitolMacIver News Service | February 21, 2011
[Madison, Wisc...] As Milwaukee Public School teachers left their classrooms to march in Madison Friday, they likely earned more than $3 million to not teach students in Wisconsin’s largest school district.
In Madison, the school district was closed for three days after hundreds of teachers engaged in a mass sick-out so they could attend protest rallies at the State Capitol. That could cost the district $2.7 million.
Late Sunday night Madison Metropolitan School District administration announced their schools would be shut down yet one more day, at a possible cost of more than $900,000.
Many of absent teachers converged on the Capitol to protest a bill which would alter their compensation packages and make changes in government employee unions' ability to collectively bargain on issues other than wages.
While some have speculated that the absent teachers will see their pay docked, that may not be the case if they provide a doctor's note. Due to collective bargaining rules currently in place, the absences could be considered excused and the teachers would be paid for their protesting.
That possibility took on added significance as the MacIver News Service broke the story Saturday that several doctors in lab coats were handing out medical excuse notes to passers by, without examining the ‘patients.’
“I asked if they were handing out doctors’ excuses and a guy said yes and asked me if I needed one,” one woman told MNS Saturday. “When I told them I needed one for February 16 and 17th, he wondered if I wanted to come back here for the protests next week.”
What happened next surprised her.
“I said, ‘sure,’ and I received a doctor’s note for the 16th through the 25th of February, without a medical exam.”
If all the teachers in Milwaukee and Madison are paid for the days missed, the protest related salaries for just the state's two largest districts would exceed $6.6 million dollars.
Using a figure of $100,005 for average teacher compensation in MPS and an average yearly workload of 195 days, these teachers cost approximately $513 per day in salary and benefits to employ. Spread over 5,960.3 full-time licensed teachers in the district, this adds up to $3,057,634 in daily expenses.
The average teacher’s total compensation in Madison is $74,912, according to the Department of Public Instruction. Each day costs $384.16 per teacher. The district has 2,370 teachers.
These figures don’t include administrators and support staff, many of which got an unexpected paid days off thanks to the week’s protests.
The issue extends far beyond Milwaukee and Madison, however. More than two dozen school districts were closed for at least one day last week as teachers called in sick to attend protests over the Budget Repair bill in Madison.
MNS is examining the total costs associated with those teachers' salaries and will update this story when those figures are available.
We're analyzing costs at other districts whose schools were also closed due to mass sick-outs by teachers. The chart below reflects about one third of the number of districts that closed. We will be updating the chart throughout the week.