Worthington News

Raises, stipend Board OKs teachers contract

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Worthington teachers will receive a 2-percent salary increase, a step increase that averages between 1.5 and 2 percent and a $750 stipend next year.

Those figures are part of a three-year contract between the Worthington Board of Education and the Worthington Education Association, as approved by the school board 4-1 on Monday night, June 9.

The teachers union approved the contract June 2.

The contract calls for a 2-percent increase in the base salary for each of the coming three years, plus the one-time $750 payment to each teacher this year.

It does not address the practice of step increases, which grants automatic raises based on seniority.

According to the new salary schedule, the lowest salary for a Worthington teacher this year will be $41,334 for a first-year teacher with a bachelor's degree only. The salary of a teacher with a master's degree plus 45 hours of additional education will be $97,697.

In 2015, those figures will be $42,161 and $99,631, respectively. In 2016, they will be $43,004 and $101,623.

Raises could be considerably higher for some teachers, especially those with less experience. In general, teachers with more experience receive a lower percentage of step increases than newer teachers.

For example, a teacher with a master's degree and four years of experience will earn a salary of $53,060 in 2014. Next year, that salary will be $56,395. That is a 6.3-percent raise.

If that teacher obtains 15 hours of additional education during that year, the salary in 2014 would be $58,397, which would equal a 10.1-percent increase.

Other provisions of the 100-page-plus contract include a cap on health-care costs for the next three years. Teachers pay 15 percent of their health insurance premiums, and the district pays the rest.

Over the course of the new contract, increases in costs will be handled by increased employee premiums or plan design changes.

The contract also allows some leeway in hiring new teachers, based on the district's needs and a candidate's experience, rather than forcing the district to limit an offering salary to a rigid hiring grid.

WEA president Mark Hill and board members Sam Shim, Jennifer Best and Charlie Wilson praised the contract and the noncontentious bargaining process.

The continuation of the step-increase process prompted Marc Schare to vote against the contract. The contract in general was not so bad, though, he said.

"No one is going to claim that 2 percent on the base is an outrageously expensive settlement," he said.

He said he is in favor of strategic compensation, a system that uses compensation to attract and retain quality teachers, rather than the step process that automatically rewards teachers for seniority.

"This contract continues the use of a step schedule that is now so old that no member of the administration knows why it is constructed the way it is," he said. "To my knowledge, there were no discussions about changing the step schedule, how compensation could be used more strategically once teachers are already in the district or even if the slope of our schedule was consistent with current recruitment practices."

He said he made an implicit promise to voters last fall that he would not support a contract that did not address step increases.

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