Teachers and administrators wrangle over pay | SierraSun.com

Teachers and administrators wrangle over pay

Renee Shadforth
Sierra Sun

Most local teachers won’t be in their classrooms beyond regular school hours starting this week.

In response to a disagreement between teachers union members and school administrators about salaries, union representatives have asked Tahoe Truckee Unified School District teachers to work no more than their contracts require. That means teachers will arrive at school no sooner than 10 minutes before the morning bell rings and to leave with the bell at the end of the day.

“We have a contract we work to, but we always work more hours than that,” said Erika Murphy, president of the Tahoe Truckee Educators Association.

School administrators say money will be too tight in 2005-06 to give teachers what they have requested in contract negotiations and that educational programs will be compromised with salary increases.

“We recognize that our teachers ” and all our employees ” are underpaid compared to other districts,” said school district Superintendent Dennis Williams. “But, our priority is to address that need (to increase salaries) as soon as possible, while not compromising programs in the classroom.”

Teachers union representatives said the district has money for raises, especially once the district enters its second year of basic aid in 2005-06 ” meaning there will be increased revenue from local property taxes.

“Now, as a basic aid district, they are receiving property taxes, and they’ll be in the black, and (teachers) are nowhere in the administration’s (budget) plan,” said Murphy, who also sits on the school district’s budget review committee.

Teachers union negotiators have asked for a 6 percent salary increase from the school district. The 6 percent, Murphy said, will make up for teachers receiving no cost of living increase for the past two years.

She said teachers are also frustrated that the top three district administrators received salary increases in 2003, while teachers received no pay raises.

However, district administrators say that teachers received the equivalent to a 3 percent compensation increase when the district increased its spending cap on benefits last year from $6,800 to $8,500 for both current and retired teachers.

District negotiators have offered teachers a 1 percent increase on the salary schedule that will be retroactive to September. The union rejected the offer.

The administrative negotiating team will go into closed session tonight after the regularly scheduled board meeting to come up with a proposal to the union. The administrative negotiating team will go to the union with a new proposal on Thursday.

The Tahoe Truckee Educators Association has issued an all-call to its members for tonight’s board meeting, asking that all teachers in the district attend.