Coinciding with the start of a new school year, the Canal Winchester Local Board of Education approved a one-year, 1-percent salary increase for teachers in the district.

Coinciding with the start of a new school year, the Canal Winchester Local Board of Education approved a one-year, 1-percent salary increase for teachers in the district.

The increase means the salary for a first-year teacher will be $34,553.

"Our teachers are still the lowest paid teachers in (Franklin) County," Superintendent Dr. Kimberley Miller-Smith said.

John-Paul Hoffman, co-president of the local teachers union, the Canal Winchester Education Association (CWEA), said he was "surprised and pleased" by the raise.

The CWEA had agreed to postpone negotiations on teacher salaries the past two years.

"With the problems we were having (passing a school levy), we didn't do any salary increase last year," said Hoffman, who is also a computer technology instructor at Canal Winchester Middle School. "I can't say we had a salary freeze because we still had our step (increases). I consider them cost-of-living increases."

In May, Canal Winchester voters approved a 14.82-mill, two-year emergency levy that will raise an estimated $6.5-million each year. It will cost homeowners an additional $454 annually, or $38 monthly, per $100,000 of assessed real estate vale.

"There was no agreement that if the levy passed, we would get a raise," Hoffman said. "That's part of the reason why we were surprised when they offered us the 1 percent, because it was like wow, great. We didn't have an expectation that this was what was going to happen."

On Aug. 25, the CWEA ratified a tentative agreement that was reached in the prior week by both sides. Members of the union accepted the district's offer of a one-year, 1-percent salary increase. The next day, at a special meeting, the board met in an executive session, and afterward, unanimously approved the pay increase for the 2009-10 school year for all teachers in the district, regardless of whether they are CWEA members (most are). There will be no retroactive pay.

Miller-Smith said the increase was already accounted for in the district's budget for 2009-10.

"This agreement is financially responsible," Miller-Smith said in a statement.

Next June, a new teachers' contract, including salary and other language, will need to be renegotiated.

The CWEA also agreed to work one additional paid, non-student day (a Saturday or Sunday) per year to complete state-required training.

"Up until this agreement, we were doing it on our own time, outside of the school day," Hoffman said. "When we had our professional days, those were specific training days that we did curricular topics."

The training will be on a number of topics, including blood-borne pathogens, bullying, child abuse, hazardous communication, positive youth development, substance abuse prevention and violence prevention.