Wisconsin's McIver Institute has been closely following the developments in Madison over the last week as government workers rally to protect their collective bargaining privileges against state budget cuts. But as teachers have abandoned their classrooms to picket at the state capitol, the state's taxpayers are the ones paying the real price.
In Milwaukee, public school teachers who skipped out on work to engage in the protest have earned an estimated $3 million while not teaching students in Wisconsin's largest school district.
Similarly, in Madison, a school district closed for three days due to teacher shortages, the district stands to lose about $2.7 million. To close the school on Monday alone, McIver estimates the school district paid more than $900,000.
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 problem of paying for absent teachers is one that extends far beyond Milwaukee and Madison, however. McIver also notes that more than two dozen school districts across the state were closed for at least one day last week as teachers called in sick, further adding to the total cost burden carried by taxpayers.