The below letter was written to the reporter in response to her District 50 article in the Northwest Herald.
Without having seen the contract, let me make two surmises.
First, the Contract is not a 34 year contract. It will in fact be superseded by others which will increase the base salary for entry level teachers and make other adjustments up the longevity ladder. Experienced teachers would come into the system with credit for years teaching at other schools. Regarding this, it may be the first push towards an industry wide (as opposed to a factory) wage scale.
Second, the published information makes no reference to the other source of increasing salaries, commonly found in most contracts: the educational attainment part of the matrix. Credit is given and wages increased if the teacher goes back to school (evenings and summers). Usually it is increments of fifteen hours of credited additional schooling -- one semester worth. Unfortunately for the students most teachers do not take subject matter courses -- they do not, for instance, have a math degree, they are only certified to teach math. They are not qualified to take graduate level courses in the subject they teach. Some do, some have. but their numbers are quite small. So raises flow naturally through the medium of education courses.
It is the combination of longevity raises and education rewards that turn a three percent contractual raise into an actual eight percent increase in the budget.
It is important that all education reporters, all parents and all taxpayers understand this.
D-50 board approves teachers' contract
[published on Wed, Sep 6, 2006]
HARVARD – The District 50 school board approved a base teacher salary increase of almost 11 percent at a meeting Tuesday and revamped the schedule by which raises are granted for longevity and education.
According to a joint statement from the school board and the teachers union, the Harvard Education Association, the changes were made "to help in recruitment and retention of quality teachers."
The board increased the base teacher salary to $32,000 this year and $32,500 next year from $28,860. It also changed the set salary increases for years of service and additional education from a percentage to a flat dollar amount, eliminating the compounding that gave teachers high on the pay scale larger increases each year while the teachers nearer to the base salary had comparatively small increases, school board President Ken Book said.
"In the long run, the flat-salary schedule will benefit the district and the teachers," said Book, who abstained from the 5-0 vote to approve the contract because his wife is an employee of the district. Board member Diana Bird was absent.
Mary Cooke, president of the union, said she was pleased with the contract. Going to a flat-salary schedule was necessary to accomplish the teachers' other goals, she said.
"In order to really raise our base salary, with the compounded salary schedule it became too costly," Cooke said.
Teachers also will be able to receive longevity raises for up to 34 years in the district under the new contract. Until now, their salaries topped out at 17 years.
No cuts to other education fund expenditures were made to fund the salary increases, Book said.
"We're dead on for what we had budgeted," he said.
By JENN WIANT
Can we assume since they are dead on for what they budgeted that a referendum will not be needed? Probably not, a referendum will probably be likely come next spring or within the next year because the board will have underestimated the impact of the new contract. The excuse will be growth. But growth with fiscally responsible budgets and good planning can pay for itself. Let us hope Mr. Book does not let the community down.
According to a joint statement the board and the union said the contract will ".. help in recruitment and retention of quality teachers." However this does nothing to get rid of underperforming teachers protected by tenure.