Reader urges ‘constructive dialogue’ on pay for Lindbergh teachers

To the editor:

The Lindbergh Schools community is currently engaged in a debate around the district’s budget, and in particular, the compensation of our teachers.

I encourage all involved to engage in constructive dialogue that involves specific, actionable ideas. It is not sufficient to simply say that we need to pay our teachers more. Any statement on that subject needs to be accompanied with “and this is specifically how we are going to accomplish and fund that objective.”

I have been impressed by the district’s history of a balanced budget and diligence in avoiding deficit spending to cover recurring expenses. If more money is needed for teacher salaries, then there are two primary options: generate more revenue through a tax increase or eliminate other recurring expenses.

The district can only spend the money that it has available each year. With a tax rate that ranks 18th out of 22 county districts and where the percentage of revenue from local sources is much higher than many other districts, it is not surprising that Lindbergh is lagging in terms of teacher salary rankings. Lindbergh is facing many challenges, including addressing rapid student growth, and district voters have generously approved two tax increases in recent years, so I understand the reluctance of the board to talk about another so soon. But if organic revenue growth is not sufficient to meet the district’s needs, then maybe that position needs to be reconsidered.

When I moved into the district, one of the key considerations was the quality of the schools, and I would gladly pay more in taxes to maintain that quality, but for those focused on this year’s budget, the revenue limitations are already in place.

If people believe there are ways to currently fund higher salaries without additional revenue, then please be specific in identifying what recurring expenses in the proposed budget you would suggest permanently cutting to fund those salary increases.