Teachers, staff will get raises this year

Brown County teachers will receive the largest base salary increase they’ve had in years following the adoption of a one-year teacher contract in September for 2016-17.

Teachers will be eligible for a 2.5 percent base salary increase based on two factors: their effectiveness rating and years of experience.

Teachers rated effective or highly effective during the 2015-16 school year will receive the bump on their paychecks in late November or early December.

“This is the first time at ratification we had appreciative teachers in a very long time,” said Trisha Ulrich, co-president of the Brown County Education Association.

“We realize that with declining enrollment, it is a strain on the budget to offer the teachers such a raise, but we feel we have suffered with this burden for quite a long time as we have not been offered anything close to cost of living and finally we will see an actual increase in pay.”

Teachers have received base salary increases ranging from $500 to $2,293 — depending on where they were on the salary level — for the last three school years. Teachers have also received various stipends since the 2011-12 school year.

A new teacher will earn $36,388 under this contract — up from the $35,500 in the 2015-16 contract. A teacher with five years of experience will now receive $39,110 compared to $38,875 in last school year’s contract.

Based on a new state statute, teachers in their first or second full years of teaching will not have to be rated effective or highly effective to receive a raise.

Referendum money

About $200,000 from the Brown County Schools referendum which voters passed in May will go toward the teacher pay increases, as well as teacher attendance bonuses and sick day reimbursements, Superintendent Laura Hammack said.

Referendum money will total about $1 million a year for seven years. The Brown County Career Resource Center will get 1 cent of the 8-cent-per-$100 tax on property value — about $125,000 a year.

That tax hike will begin with May 2017 tax bills.

Before the election, school officials said the bulk of the funds — about $875,000 — would go toward supporting current and new school programs, recruiting and retaining teachers and paying general bills.

Referendum money also will be used to cover the nearly $300,000 that will be missing from the state-provided general fund due to declining enrollment in the district, and any left over after pay increases for certified and non-certified staff will be saved for future pay increases, Hammack said.

“If we didn’t have the referendum, we would be in a dire situation of no salary increases and a significant number of employee layoffs,” she said.

Hammack said the district is looking at pay increases for certified staff, non-certified staff and administrators in three phases.

Raises for non-certified staff, like cooks and custodians, are currently being evaluated and must be done by December. They will be paid with referendum money; those raises are not part of Hammack’s $200,000 estimate.

Administrative raises will be looked at after December. If the school board decides to give pay increases to administrators, that money would have to come from the general fund without any referendum assistance, Hammack said.

If student enrollment does not increase in the next seven years — the district is down almost 100 students from last school year — then the district would have to ask voters to renew the referendum, Hammack said.

“What really bothers me is that without us getting a handle on our enrollment and getting this general fund issue in balance, I am very concerned about what would happen if this referendum were not to continue after seven years,” she said.

That is why the district is making a concentrated effort to market Brown County Schools to new families as well as retain current families, Hammack said. A marketing team made up of 20 teachers and staff members met Sept. 21 and will continue to meet.

Right direction

Under the new contract, teachers will receive a $500 stipend bonus if they have perfect attendance during the school year.

They will receive $400 for only missing one day and $300 for missing two days.

If a teacher hits the 90 sick days he or she is permitted to accumulate, the school corporation will buy back days over 90 for $100 per day, up to 10 days. The current buy-back rate is $60 per day. That money will go into the teacher’s 401(a) retirement plan.

“There is no appeal to keep those days (currently), so we’re seeing a significant use of substitute teachers,” Hammack said.

“We hope we’ll see a shrinking number of substitutes that are used. Then our families will feel better because we’ll have more days of our teacher actually being in class as opposed to a substitute.”

The contract also says that the district and teacher association are willing to put a committee together to work on a compensation model. That group would build a new model that would allow teachers to move up the pay scale based on experience.

Since a law was passed in 2011 that prevented teachers from moving up a salary schedule based solely on experience, Brown County teachers have been stuck on their current salary step while new teachers have been hired into the district and received more money, Ulrich said.

“It has been very demoralizing to the experienced, faithful teachers that have stayed in Brown County and were hired with a ‘promise’ of being able to move up through the salary schedule until they reached the top to be frozen on one step,” she said.

“Hopefully, through the informal bargaining and the referendum passage, we can get back to a salary model that allows for movement again. If this happens, that will do a lot to improve teacher morale. This new contract is a big step in the right direction,” she said.

The education association, Hammack and the school board all want to make a compensation model that allows that movement for teachers if new money — like money from the referendum — is available.

“If there wasn’t any new money, then they would at least be in that new lane, and then might have to hold for a couple of years until a new raise would happen,” Hammack said.

Both sides were pleased with how negotiations played out this time.

“Negotiations went really, really well. We were so grateful to the teachers association for their collaborative spirit and willingness to genuinely work together. We felt like the conversation was very open and honest,” Hammack said.

“It was a pleasure to negotiate with Dr. Hammack and her team because they were very prepared at our meetings,” Ulrich said.

“We have lost many good teachers because of the salary here, and hopefully, this will discourage others from leaving.”

2016-17 Brown County Schools teacher contract

On Sept. 21, the Brown County School Board of Trustees unanimously approved a one-year contract between Brown County Schools and the Brown County Education Association, for July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017.

Key points:

  • Teachers will be on a 24 pay date system beginning Aug. 26, 2016 and ending Aug. 15, 2017.
  • Base salary increase of 2.5 percent will be given to all teachers who are rated effective or highly effective, and based on experience. New teachers will also receive the base salary increase even if they are not rated effective or highly effective, according to a new state statute.
  • $25 per hour will be paid to teachers who participate in professional development or on school committees.
  • $35 an hour will be paid to teachers for tutoring, including summer school teaching and homebound tutoring, if pre-approved by building principals.
  • The following extracurricular positions were added to the pay schedule: Brown County High School musical pit director at $1,490; high school musical choral director at $1,490; high school summer band director at $1,750; high school flag coach at $750 each for summer, fall and winter; intermediate school and junior high school summer band assistants at $300 each.
  • Extracurricular events compensation for teachers was set at $25 for working less than three hours; $45 for three hours or more; and $65 for six hours or more.
  • Elementary and intermediate school teachers who worked eight hours during parent-teacher conferences are allowed to trade those hours in exchange for not coming to work on Jan. 6, the teacher work day before the start of the second semester. High school and junior high school teachers who work two hours during parent-teacher conferences and volunteer six hours at an extracurricular event will also be able to trade those hours in for a day off Jan. 6.
  • A $500 attendance bonus for teachers who do not miss a day of work during the school year, a $400 bonus for teachers who miss one day and $300 for teachers who miss two days.
  • An increase to the buy-back rate for sick leave days exceeding 90, from $60 per day to $100 per day. The school board will put this money in a 401(a) account.
  • Extended contract days will be paid at the teacher’s daily rate or $300 a day, whichever is less. Any teacher making more than $300 will be grandfathered in. The hourly rate is based on a six-hour day.