By Steve Gunn
EAGnews.org

MUSKEGON, Mich. – The Miami-Dade County school board is asking voters to approve a $1.2 billion bond issue in the Nov. 6 election to fund physical improvements to the district.

But the public might be hesitant to approve more taxes, particularly since the district continues to spend too much money on union labor.
    
EAGnews.org recently obtained a copy of the teachers union collective bargaining agreement, then submitted questions to the district to determine costs associated with various provisions in that contract during the 2010-11 school year.
 
Our findings are summarized in the latest edition of the EAGnews.org continuing series, “Sucking the Life Out of America’s Public Schools: The Expense of Teachers Union Contracts, Part 7, United Teachers of Dade Contract.”
 
Our sampling turned up a number of expenses that could be trimmed or eliminated from the Miami-Dade school budget, particularly during a period of sustained financial emergency.
 
We found the school district paid $270 million toward health insurance premiums for employees in 2010-11, while employees only kicked in a combined $36 million, or just over 12 percent.
 
We found the district has a very generous paid leave policy for teachers, which contributed to its $21 million tab for substitute teachers.
 
We found the contract calls for generous tuition reimbursement for teachers and other employees who continue their educations. Those costs included $1.3 million for teachers and $141,738 for office employees.
 
Office employees made out very well in several other areas, as well. The district doled out $412,588 for “supplements for office personnel” and “secretary supplements” in 2010-11.
 
More costs like those are outlined in the report.
 
“If I were a Miami taxpayer, I would want to make sure the school district and teachers union were doing everything in their power to make the best possible use of existing revenue before they ask for more tax dollars,” said Kyle Olson, publisher of EAGnews.org. “Our report strongly suggests that unnecessary labor costs suck too much money out of the district at a time when every dime is needed.”

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