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Teachers approve a 3-year deal

June 15, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

karenh@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - The Washington County Teachers' Association has ratified a new contract that would give members pay increases of at least 3 percent next year.

The 2005-08 contract also includes modifications to a career ladder proposal that gives employees additional pay for taking on extra leadership responsibilities.

According to WCTA President Claude Sasse, the association - which includes about 1,100 members - approved the contract by a vote of about 93 percent.

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That is "just a few points lower" than the approval percentages of recent previous contracts, he said.

Officials from the association and Board of Education are expected to sign the agreement during the board's regular meeting June 21, board President Paul Bailey said Tuesday.

The association's voting was counted last week, Sasse said Tuesday.

The board-proposed career ladder temporarily threatened to halt negotiations before bargaining teams from both sides reached compromise May 19.

Unlike the board's proposal, which offered teachers in leadership roles the opportunity to qualify for permanent raises, participation in the new Leadership Responsibilities Program would not affect the salary structure, Sasse said.

Instead, teachers taking on certain additional responsibilities - such as mentoring or managing grants - would receive extra-duty pay or accumulate points for one-time bonuses, or both.

The program recognizes teachers' high workload, Sasse said Tuesday.

"Is it enough? No," he said.

Bailey said he is pleased the contract has been ratified.

The sides' differences "were worked out satisfactorily in compromises," Bailey said.

The contract, which would become effective July 1 and runs through June 30, 2008, specifies both sides must identify in writing by Sept. 30, 2006, two sections in addition to pay scale to discuss in negotiations.

According to the contract, teachers credited with fewer than 20 years of service would receive 3 percent raises next year. Teachers credited with 20 years or more of service would receive $4,000 increases. Eligible teachers also would qualify for step increases based on longevity and educational level, as specified by the contract.

The contract contains an appendix detailing the career ladder recommendations. According to Sasse, a committee of teachers and administrators will determine which duties will be covered by the Leadership Responsibilities Program and what levels of points and compensation will be offered.

Sasse compared the additional responsibilities to second jobs for teachers.

"If the work needs to be done, then the money needs to be there to pay people for those jobs," Sasse said.

The program so far includes such other roles as Advanced Placement teachers, student-teacher supervisors and teachers of students in classes subject to state assessments.

The program's extra-duty compensation so far ranges from $100 to $5,000, according to the contract.

According to the contract, negotiations would reopen by October 2007.

Sasse said the association is seeking ways to provide more planning time for teachers, especially at the elementary school level. The contract would allow school-level committees to determine how to allocate additional time for elementary school teachers. Teachers who are provided additional time would be compensated at their per diem rate, he said.

The contract also provides for the creation of a committee to consider what changes are needed at under-performing schools and a task force to look at discipline.

Other changes include the opportunity for teachers with perfect attendance to cash in up to three sick leave days a year for $100 a day, payable by July 31. Teachers also may use personal leave, annual leave or up to two sick days a year to observe religious holidays. Those sick days would not affect eligibility for perfect attendance.

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