Eight Years Later, Teachers Union President Still Complains About Pay Cut; He Makes $83,705
It’s a poor community where teachers do OK, and a little better in return for extra chores
Frank Burger is not happy that he had to take a pay cut in 2013.
Burger is the president of the local teachers union for the Carman-Ainsworth school district in Genesee County, as well as a teacher there.
Burger told WPBN that he was forced to take a 5.5% pay cut in 2013.
“We had to take a massive pay cut, or Carman-Ainsworth Schools would’ve gone under at that point,” Burger said, according to the TV station.
Michigan Capitol Confidential often reviews statements made by teachers union officials because their comments are often misleading, erroneous and missing important context.
Burger’s claim that the school district had been on the verge of insolvency but for alleged pay cuts is baseless.
Leading up to 2013, the Carman-Ainsworth school district had been undergoing a very difficult challenge – persistent enrollment declines over a multiyear period, with accompanying declines in annual per-pupil operating revenue.
But data from the Michigan Department of Education shows the district was never close to being insolvent. It maintained a reserve fund, and in 2013 used $1.56 million from it to meet expenses. But the reserve fund still finished that year with a balance of $1.5 million, according to a 2013 audited report.
Burger’s gross pay in 2013-14 was $80,782. That includes any extra compensation he may have received for taking on additional duties, such as teaching summer school or coaching a school-sanctioned sport. The teachers contract at Carman-Ainsworth says base salaries top out at $76,947, and his $80,782 gross pay was well above that year’s statewide average for teachers, $62,169. Burger made $83,705 in 20019-20.
Burger’s complaint about compensation is common among union officials, whose interests are not served by acknowledging the financial circumstances of the school district that employs them.
In Michigan, the majority of a district’s state funding is based on a per-pupil allotment, so a reduction in enrollment amounts to less revenue. In 2005-06, Carman-Ainsworth received $32.8 million in state funding. By 2012-13, a reduction in enrollment meant the school district received $30.7 million in state funding.
In 2013, the district was at the tail end of an enrollment slump that saw it lose 18% of its students from 2005-06 to 2012-13. The district’s enrollment dropped from 5,303 to 4,355 over that seven-year period.
While Burger erroneously blamed GOP Gov. Rick Snyder for budget cuts that led to his alleged pay reduction, his district received more money on a per-pupil basis during Snyder’s tenure, not less. (Burger is also active in Democratic Party politics, and Snyder was a Republican.)
On a per-pupil basis, the amount of state support that went to Carman-Ainsworth increased from $6,797 per pupil in 2011-12 (Snyder’s first budget) to $8,425 per pupil in 2018-19 (Snyder’s last budget). That’s an $877 per-pupil increase over that seven-year period when adjusted for inflation.
In 2007-08, the district had 1,153 employees and 5,172 students. By 2012-13 the number of employees had increased to 1,165 despite enrollment declining to 4,636 students. This is what would have caused the reserve fund spending, and in a district without reserves, it would mean a deficit and short-term borrowing.
Enrollment has since stabilized at the school district, and the additional revenue it has received has allowed many teachers to see robust increases in gross pay.
For example, Angie Hoskey-Pozca is the secretary of the Carman-Ainsworth teachers union and also a teacher within the district. She started in 2014-15 with a gross pay of $45,836 and made $73,595 in 2019-20. That’s a 61% increase in gross pay over a five-year period.
A high school math teacher in his 18th year at the district saw his gross pay increase from $89,061 in 2013-14 to $103,145 in 2019-20.
A physical education teacher who also coaches two sports made $100,499 in 2013-14 and experienced a salary decrease to $96,290 in 2019-20.
And Burger’s gross pay increased from $80,782 in 2013-14 to $83,705 in 2019-20, just a 3.6% increase spread over that six-year period.
But a teacher’s gross pay within a district can vary greatly due to union contract details and extra income teachers can earn for taking on optional duties. The average teacher salary at Carman-Ainsworth was $66,976 in 2019-20, according to the Michigan Department of Education. The median household income in Flint Township, where the school district is located, was $28,834 from 2015-19, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.