Lindbergh pact would provide 1-percent pay hike for teachers

Agreement for 1-percent salary hike will return 6 teachers to classroom.

By MIKE ANTHONY

Approval of a salary and benefits package for the 2010-2011 school year that provides a 1-percent raise for teachers was scheduled to be considered earlier this week by the Lindbergh Board of Education.

The Board of Education was scheduled to meet Tuesday night — after the Call went to press.

The district administration is recommending the Board of Education approve the agreement negotiated with the Lindbergh National Education Association, Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Services Rick Francis told the Call.

Lindbergh NEA members voted on Friday to approve the agreement. The revisions to the salary schedule and benefits package were approved by a roughly 9-to-1 margin with 155 teachers in favor and 17 opposed, according to Francis.

Coming after more than $4.7 million in reductions for the 2010-2011 school year were approved last month by the Board of Education, Francis and LNEA leaders hailed the agreement as a positive step forward for the district.

The budget reductions included the elimination of 60 positions, including 45 teaching positions.

The more than $4.7 million in budget reductions were premised on the possibility of a 2-percent salary increase, but the amount of the pay raise would be determined based on the outcome of negotiations between the Board of Education and LNEA teachers. All employees, including administrators, will receive the same pay increase as teachers.

By agreeing to a 1-percent salary increase, Francis said LNEA teachers “sacrificed” taking home more money in exchange for allowing six full-time classroom teaching positions to be reinstated.

“What we’ve discussed with the difference in the 2-percent (salary increase) that was in the budget reduction process to a 1 percent and that those savings would be the savings not only for teachers, but also administrators and classified — that those dollars would be used to bring back classroom teachers for kids. Solely classroom teachers — no classified, no administrators,” Francis said.

Diane O’Leary and Beth Siegfried, LNEA co-presidents, said in a statement Monday, “LNEA teachers have voted to sacrifice some of their budgeted 2-percent increase, which will result in the reinstatement of six classroom teachers. These teachers at the elementary, middle and high school levels will help stabilize class sizes and move Lindbergh in the right direction toward restoring the tradition of educational excellence in the Lindbergh Schools.

“The salary agreement between LNEA and the Lindbergh Board of Education will benefit not only the six teachers whose jobs will be restored, but also and more importantly the students who depend on our teachers’ collective leadership and instruction every day. This agreement is another positive step forward in our shared commitment of educational excellence at Lindbergh Schools,” the co-presidents said.

A three-year agreement between teachers and the Board of Education approved last November includes an annual review of salary, insurance and tuition reimbursement.

The 1-percent salary increase basically will “cover the cost increases in individual insurance and retirement benefits. So for most teachers, it will be wash in their net pay,” Francis said.

While the district will continue to pay the cost of insurance for employees, premiums for spouse and family coverage increased by 4.5 percent. In addition, teachers’ contributions to the Missouri Public School Retirement System will increase to 14 percent of their salary from 13.5 percent.

The current salary schedule for teachers includes four channels — Bachelor’s, Bachelor’s +15 Hours, Master’s and Master’s +30 Hours — and 18 steps. Channels denote a teacher’s level of education. Each channel also includes steps that represent each year a teacher has worked.

Under the agreement, which includes the cost for educational movement, all teachers will receive a salary in-crease but will remain on their current step for the 2010-2011 school year. The only teachers who will receive a longevity raise are those on step 18 in the Master’s +30 Hours channel. Those teachers will receive the longevity increase by “collapsing” step 18, according to Francis.

“Our current salary schedule has 18 steps and next year’s ’10-’11 salary schedule will only have 17 steps. And so the longevity that was there when you went from 18 onto the longevity step gets collapsed and so that big raise there at the end goes onto step 17. In other words, everybody is staying on their same step next year.

“If I was on Bachelor’s step five, I will be on Bachelor’s step five. If I am on Master’s 17, I will stay on Master’s 17. But we did not want to penalize teachers who had gotten to that point and were ready to (advance to) that longevity step. They will get that. And this way, a person who is two, three, four years away from that longevity step will now continue to be just two, three or four years away …”

The assistant superintendent termed the collapsing of the step “a creative way of basically beefing up our teachers’ salary schedule because anyone coming in comparing our salary schedule with another school district, they would look at what do you make at step nine of Bachelor’s? Well, we’ve pumped in I think it’s like $300 down there. It will be more competitive.”

The agreement approved by teachers also provides that the amount for tuition reimbursement for graduate credit hours for a master’s degree will be decreased.

Francis said the agreement with LNEA leaders was reached after four or five meetings.

“It went very, very well,” he said. “I’m proud of our teaching staff and everything that they’ve done this past year to improve student achievement,” he said. “This most recent negotiation we worked together and I see that as a sacrifice to bring back teachers, which is just another example of the teachers’ loyalty and commitment to do what’s best for kids.”