Written by CAROL POMEDAY
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 18:03
Dividing issue is how to define base salary as districtâs first negotiations under Act 10 continue
The Cedar Grove-Belgium School Board and Cedar Grove-Belgium Teachers Association exchanged salary proposals on July 19 that are far apart.
The board proposed a 1% increase in the base pay of teachers, which totals about $29,000 that would be divided among about 80 teachers, said Scott Tipple, head of the teacherâs negotiating team.
A beginning teacherâs salary is currently $37,329.
The teachers asked for a 3.16% increase based on the teachersâ highest base pay, which takes into account longevity but not education credits, Tipple said.
He estimated the cost of the teacherâs proposal would be between $90,000 and $100,000.
The 3.16% is the current cost-of-living index and the highest raise allowed under Act 10, the state law that removed most collective bargaining rights for public employees and limits bargaining to base salary.
The two sides had different interpretations of base salary, School Board President Jim Lautenschlaeger said.
The School Board interprets it as the pay for a beginning teacher.
âWe went with a 1% increase because weâre not really sure where our financial situation is yet,â Lautenschlaeger said. âWe thought we would be $400,000 in the hole and now we learn weâre getting more state aid that we thought.
âItâs hard to give someone a raise if you donât know if you can afford it. I think weâll have more of an idea of where our budget is at in the next couple of weeks.â
The board must also consider salary increases for support staff and administrators, which in the past has been based on the teachersâ raises, he said.
Tipple said the teachers went for the maximum allowed because of the uncertain economic climate.
âWeâre proposing the maximum allowed because next year the cost of living may be 1.5%,â Tipple said.
Lautenschlaeger said heâs hopeful the negotiations can be completed before students return to classes in September.
âI donât think weâre that far apart,â he said. âI hope we can get things done and not have to worry about back pay and teachers not knowing what their salaries are going to be.
âI want everybody to be focused on educating kids when school starts.â
The next negotiation session will be in closed session on Tuesday, Aug. 14.