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LETTER: Don’t blame teachers, new board for school taxes

This letter is to give the article on teacher salaries some context. (“The pay grade,” Page A1, July 13).

There was public criticism when the Grand Forks Public Schools board and teachers agreed on the current contract. In its rush to defend its not-voter-approved $40 million-plus spending on buildings, the board failed to adequately explain the full implications of the compensation agreement.

The median teacher, including those getting a step increase, got about a $1,550 increase this year. Of this, $1,007 was subtracted because of state-mandated retirement contribution increases.

For family insurance coverage, the employee share increased $528, leaving the employee with a net annual increase of $22.

And if you actually use the health insurance, the out-of-pocket increase will result in a net decrease in spendable income of about $1,980.

We can be happy for three things. Our superintendent now has a three-year contract. Another employee who was promoted on condition of obtaining a doctoral degree has yet to obtain it, I assume saving us money.

Last but not least, we have the best school arts facilities between Chicago and Seattle, along with capacity to add more than 3,000 students in town once the new school opens.

Meanwhile, taxpayers did not get the fully financed, state-funded 50 mill buydown, and many teachers actually will have less take-home pay than last year. Here’s hoping the new board quickly will get control of the budget without throwing teachers under the bus.

C.T. Marhula

Grand Forks