Lindbergh Schools returns to being one happy family

‘Call the Tune’ by Mike Anthony

By Mike Anthony

It’s good to see that Lindbergh Schools is one happy family again, after a couple years of employee unrest over salaries, the negotiations process and other issues.

As we reported last week, the Board of Education voted unanimously earlier this month to approve the district’s 2017-2018 operating budget that provides an average 3-percent salary increase for all employees.

Teachers represented by the Lindbergh National Education Association, or LNEA, voted 234-13 in May to approve an agreement with the board that allows all teachers to advance a step on the current salary schedule.

That’s good news, especially after last year when students joined district teachers in protesting the board’s offer of an average 1.25-percent salary increase and no step increase.

That offer was rejected by the LNEA in an overwhelming 203-1 vote. To provide for step increases, an average 3-percent pay raise is needed to fund the pay schedule.

We certainly can understand teachers’ unhappiness over an average 1.25-percent pay hike, but as with any household, the school district has a finite amount of revenue. And just as with any household, board members must make choices about how to spend that money, establishing priorities such as balancing surging enrollment with employee compensation.

In voting to approve the district’s 2017-2018 budget, board member Matt Alonzo said the average 3-percent salary increases “… were very significant and a great step in the right direction …”

But, in fact, the salary increases were less than what was offered two years ago when the board adopted a budget that provided an average raise of 3.2 percent for all district employees. LNEA members voted 182-23 to reject the 3.2-percent salary increase.

Teachers sought a 3.5-percent salary increase — an additional $29,000 — which unless other items were cut would have resulted in a deficit budget.

So what’s changed? For one, LNEA-endorsed candidates now comprise a majority of the Board of Education.

Like we said, it’s good to see Lindbergh Schools is one happy family again.

But given how fickle school district employees are — just look at the Mehlville School District — we’re curious about whether that will be the case next year, a non-reassessment year when less money will be available for employee salaries.

Stay tuned.