First off, let's look at Kaukauna's original budget cuts for 2011-2012. The district was looking at a deficit near $3.0 million dollars after the Governor's budget was originally proposed. But page 14 of this slideshow buries the real lead and the reason why Kaukauna was in trouble in the first place.
Prior to February 11, 2011, the district was anticipating a balanced operating budget but changes at the state have forced the district to make major revisions to its original forecast.
So this wasn't a "union costs exploded for 2011-2012" problem. This was a "budget cuts from Scott Walker and WisGOP in Madison are screwing us on the local level" problem. In fact, the original budget proposal from the guv resulted in a drop of Kaukauna's available revenues of $2.16 million (a bit under 5% of their total), and $2.75 million from the state (check out your favorite district's cut here, Kaukauna's on Page 5). The unions responded by proposing $1.8 million in concessions, which combined with the district $345,000 in surplus funds from 2010-11, would have taken care off all of the state cuts put into Kaukauna's budget. The Kaukauna School Board turned them down and asked for layoffs of 14.5 full-time positions instead, and decided to wait on the Legislature and State Supreme Court to do the dirty work of putting the screws on the teachers, and hope for large numbers of teacher retirements.
Which is exactly what happened. The Kaukauna teachers will now have to chip in over 18% of their pay in health care and pension contributions, with no corresponding increase in salary. And for all the talk about "Kaukauna class sizes going down," even Kaukauna School Board President Todd Arnoldussen admits it's projected class sizes being reduced, and those are reductions from huge INCREASES THAT WERE PREVIOUSLY PROJECTED. In other words, little to no change will result from what students would have seen this year. Class sizes DID NOT GO DOWN, as much as the deceptive press releases may indicate.
And I'm not even bringing up the fact that I wish Kaukauna good luck in attracting and retaining quality teachers when they're getting a huge cut in their take-home pay. Strangely, those "free-market" types that are always bashing public educators leaves out the free market reality of lower pay = lower quality. (But when has consistency and reality ever been part of the equation for those haters, anyway?)
So, once again, any benefits from Walker and co. reducing teacher benefits is nothing more than spin and short-term thinking. Let's check back next year when we see what kind of budget difficulties exist in K-ville, and see if Act 10 aolved all their problems. I'm putting my money on "far from it."