2-year teacher contract OK’d; Compensation package increase mostly gobbled by health insurance

Published 7:55 am Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Austin School Board on Monday unanimously approved an 8.9 percent total compensation package increase for the district’s teachers over the next two years, but most of the increase will go to pay double-digit health insurance hikes.

The Austin Educator’s Association ratified the contract on Sept. 29.

The total package increase for this school year is 5.37 percent and 3.59 percent next year, said Human Resources Director Mark Raymond.

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Of those increases, he said the district’s 406 teachers will realize a 1.75 percent average increase in salary each year of the contract. That amounts to a district salary cost of $749,074 in the first year, and $597,329 in the second.

For example, a teacher holding a bachelor’s degree with five years experience will realize an $800 increase this year. A teacher with a master’s degree and five years of experience will get a $950 bump in salary. The salary for a beginning teacher is now $40,000.

There were some language changes. New extended contract language is now based on a one-eighth per diem rate; prior to the new contract, it was based on a one-sixth rate. That rate used to reflect student-teacher instructional time (six periods of the day) instead of the addition of a teacher’s prep hour and supervisory hour (eight periods of the day). The rate is used to compensate for teaching time in addition to a teacher’s regular schedule.

Sick leave will now be earned at a rate of one day per month for a total of 12 per year; and a stipend will be added for summer staff development.

The largest increase in the contract, however, was for the district’s share of health insurance. Health insurance is expected to increase 12.6 percent in the first year of the contract and is estimated to increase another 10 percent in the second. The second year hike, however, is just a “best guess,” Raymond said, and won’t be known for sure until next year.

In just the first year alone, the district will spend $5.1 million in health insurance costs.

Negotiations for the new contract began in April of this year and ended in September. Both sides praised the other for a relatively smooth process.

“Both sides were working for the best possible outcome for our students,” Raymond said.

“It’s nice to see an amicable negotiation,” said Chairwoman Angie Goetz, and thanked both sides for their cooperation.

The board’s approval came during a special meeting. The approval was tabled at the last regular meeting of the board, since some members had to be absent. Since the board members in attendance thought the item too important to approve without the full membership, it postponed its approval until Monday’s meeting.

In other business, Raymond also gave an overview of updates to the district’s Emergency Procedures Manual, while Corey Haugen, Director of Research, Evaluation and Assessment, gave an overview of what assessments, some new, each grade will take this year.