“Equal is fair” has been the narrative of the school board through our whole teacher negotiations process. Yet, when figuring district comparisons equal is not fair.
Let me give you an idea of recent pay increases in our district. Last year our Central Office agreed on an approximately 8% raise. Our administrators just settled on 7% over two years. Sub pay and support staff finally got a (minimal) much deserved raise. Sub pay went up $6 a day, which is over 5%, and support staff got a $1-$1.50 raise, which is approximately 7% at a minimum. Now for the teachers. Over the last two years our school board hasn’t honored our salary schedule by putting us into a freeze, and now we’re being offered a flat increase for all teachers, equaling about 3.9% for a new teacher and 1.8% for a veteran teacher over the next two years. The board, however, gave administrators all the same percentage. Equal is fair? This has been very misleading to new teachers coming into our district who get shown our (old) salary schedule that appears to look like you’ll receive career increments every year and even an increase in salary for continuing education. This looks pretty attractive to a new teacher. However, once they are hired, they find out our district hasn’t been honoring this schedule and it leaves uncertainty for everyone in the district, especially new hires trying to make a living as a teacher.
This is very sad and demeaning to not be recognized and valued as educators. This unfairness has caused our culture to suffer across the district. While the administration in my building fosters a feeling of family, our school board is showing us quite the opposite. Our school board is showing they value all other areas, (as they should) except classroom teachers in equal regard. What does that do for our morale?
Jennifer Schmidt was quoted during the administrator’s negotiations saying, “Our goal is to attract quality staff to our school district with competitive wages and salaries”. We believe we have quality staff now and would like to be shown that we are appreciated by being treated comparatively. Administrators were compared to separate districts than our teachers are. Why? They settled with an offer that is almost double what our teachers are currently being offered. Why? Equal is fair?
Don’t get me wrong, I believe everyone in our district is doing an amazing job and should be compensated fairly. Compared to other salary increases throughout our district, my challenge to you, school board, is to come up with an offer better than what’s on the table from either side and show us how appreciated and valued we are.
Dooley is a teacher at Jamestown Middle School.