August 12, 2011

Contract, construction woes for school board

Contract, construction woes for school board

Unfinished items of business, both large and small, are causing major headaches for the New Town school board, administrators and staff days before students return to class.
A major issue brought to the table at the school board's regular meeting Tuesday was unfair teacher salaries. Librarian Geri Bratvold explained that teachers in their first year of teaching are paid $34,900, while teachers in their second year of teaching are paid $34,588, meaning that second-year teachers are making $312 less than first-year teachers. Year three teachers are making $35,900, year four are making $35,021 and year five teachers are making $35,023. Year three teachers are making $879 more than year four teachers and $877 more than year five teachers. At this rate, “the year four and five teachers will never catch up to the three year teachers,” said Bratvold, noting that the year four and five teachers “are veteran teachers. They're going to stay here.”
It is school policy that no newly-hired teacher can make more than a veteran teacher in the same lane and the same years' experience. Normally, if a new teacher comes in, each veteran teacher with the same number of years of experience gets $400 added to their salary.
“We're wondering if it was because the base (salary) was raised so much,” teacher Sherry Locken noted after Bratvold finished speaking. Business Manager Dan Uran said that the problem could be because no new teachers were added in the two, four and five year areas, so none of those returning teachers received the $400. “We don't think anybody did anything wrong, it's just the way the numbers went,” Bratvold said.
Next year, the base for teacher salaries is going to increase again, with new teachers increasing $1,500 and returning teachers increasing $2,000. Superintendent Marc Bluestone noted that the $500-buffer would be enough to fix the gap existing between year three and four and five teachers.

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