Mehlville school board approves pact giving teachers 3-percent salary hike

Salary for beginning teacher to be $34,523 in 2010-2011

By EVAN YOUNG

Mehlville School District teachers will receive an overall salary increase of roughly 3 percent for the coming school year.

The Board of Education voted 6-1 last week to approve a one-year agreement with the Mehlville National Education Association for the 2010-2011 school year.

Board member Erin Weber, who served on the district’s discussion team during negotiations, was opposed. She did not elaborate on her vote during the board meeting and was unavailable for comment before press time.

Ninety-seven percent of the MNEA members who attended two general membership meetings last week voted to ratify the 2010-2011 agreement, MNEA President Karen Torretta said at the May 27 school board meeting.

“The openness and honesty of district leaders made this process productive and allowed the best possible agreement, whose focus remained on the best interests of the students of this district,” Torretta told the board.

One-third of MNEA members attended last week’s general membership meetings, Torretta said, noting that various school-related activities prevented higher attendance.

The agreement reflects a roughly 3-percent increase — $1,193,115 — in funds allocated for teachers’ salaries compared to the previous year.

Individual raises for teachers for the 2010-2011 school year will range from 1.29 percent to 3.3 percent, according to Superintendent Terry Noble. Teachers received an overall salary increase of 4.8 percent under the 2009-2010 agreement.

Individual raises last year ranged from 2.5 percent to 10.8 percent.

Teachers did not receive a salary increase for the 2008-2009 school year, but instead voted to accept a pay freeze because of the district’s financial situation. For the 2007-2008 school year, teachers received a 6-percent, across-the-board salary increase.

One of the provisions in the approved pact states, “We agree in principle the goal is to move the teacher salary schedule nearer to county median in order to retain and attract quality staff.”

To help achieve that, the pact also states, in 2010-2011:

• “Teachers will be granted channel changes they have earned.”

• “Teachers will be given one step on the schedule, unless they currently are on the top step.”

• “If the final end-of-the-year district balances exceed the current projections by $200,000 or more, then the excess will be split, with half going toward the teacher salary schedule. The exact amount added to the base will be determined after the final end-of-year balances are reported.”

The 2010-2011 salary schedule is comprised of five channels — Bachelor’s, Bachelor’s +15, Master’s, Master’s +30 and Multiple Advanced Degrees. Channels denote a teacher’s level of education. Each channel also includes steps that represent each year a teacher has worked.

For the coming school year, the salary for a beginning teacher will be $34,523, up from $34,083 in 2009-2010. Teachers on the 17th step of the Multiple Advanced Degrees channel will be paid $73,888 for 2010-2011, up from last year’s 17th-step salary of $72,946.

“Everybody got an increase on their base,” Noble told the Call. “And then some got a base plus they got a step. (The) 3.3 (percent salary increase) would be somebody probably up higher who got a step, which would make it a larger percentage of their salary to get to there.”

As was the case last year, teachers at the top of the Multiple Advanced Degrees channel for four consecutive years will receive a longevity step of $1,000 added to their yearly scheduled salary at the beginning of their fifth year. Teachers on that longevity step for five consecutive years will receive an additional $1,000 added to their yearly scheduled salary at the beginning of their sixth year.

Therefore, a teacher on the Multiple Advanced Degrees channel who has earned both longevity steps would be paid $75,888 in 2010-2011.

In a statement to MNEA leaders and members during last week’s board meeting, board member Karl Frank Jr. said the organization’s “most admirable” quality is empathy.

“As you know, you never get 100 percent of what you want, but your willingness to compromise in the spirit of the common goal of public education is admirable,” he stated. “I also want to thank you for your open-mindedness to new ideas, allowing us to explore effective practices in education …

“Your empathy in the spirit of the common goal of public education is probably your greatest trait in understanding where all parties are coming from,” Frank stated. “Over the last five years, negotiations have evolved from somewhat of a dictatorial, confrontational type process to a process that truly feels like we are leading this district into the future together as a team.”