Janesville School Board approves increase for teachers

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Nick Crow
Wednesday, January 29, 2014

JANESVILLE —The Janesville School Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to impose a 0.75 percent base wage increase for teachers.

The wage increase is less that the 1 percent increase the school board had initially offered.

The board OK'd the agreement after Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission Mediator William Houlihan declared an impasse Jan. 16.

“Under Act 10, the only thing we could negotiate was a base wage increase,” said Board President Greg Ardrey. “Now we move forward and look at next year's negotiations.”

Janesville Education Association President Dave Parr said that he believes teachers deserved a bigger raise because of last year's test scores.

“Of course we are disappointed that we didn't get what we asked for,” Parr said. “We were asking for about half of a normal cost of living increase, but the school board did what they did, and we'll have to live with it.”

Act 10 removed the ability of public employees unions to negotiate for anything but a pay increase limited to the Consumer Price Index.

In a memo to teachers, Superintendent Karen Schulte said that under Act 10 a school district may unilaterally impose its final offer on base wages after an impasse has been declared.

“Because negotiations were only on the base wage … it was easy to just stay focused on what we were doing,” Schulte said.

Base wages are calculated according to the lowest degree of education required for a position.

In an example provided by the school district, a teacher with a bachelor's degree, 24 extra education credits and 14 years experience working in a job that requires only a bachelor's degree in 2012-13 was paid $56,575.

The pay included $35,370 in base pay, the amount paid for a job that requires only a bachelor's degree. The teacher also received $21,205 in supplemental pay based on extra education credits and years of experience.

The 0.75 percent increase will be calculated against the base pay, giving the teacher new base pay of $35,635. Supplemental pay will remain unchanged, yielding a new total pay of $56,840.

The average base pay increase for a bachelor's position will be $265.28 annually. A master's position will earn a base pay increase of $302.95 annually, according to the memo.

Supplemental pay historically has been calculated based on teachers' years of experience and education credits. Ardrey said supplemental pay amounts will be unchanged in the new contract, but the system to calculate supplemental pay in the future will change.

Instead of years of experience and education, supplemental pay will be based on performance evaluation, he said.

Schulte said money isn't the only factor in the agreement. The district also continues to provide health insurance, is implementing technology in the classroom to aid teachers, has made capital improvements to district buildings and rewarded teachers who have excelled.

Under Act 10, public employees are required to contribute toward their pensions and can be required to pay more for their insurance premiums.

“No teachers received decreases unless they are under supervision for performance issues,” Ardrey said. “It finalizes this negotiating year. It's the first year we were in this environment.”

The Janesville School Board and teachers union had been bargaining under the terms of Act 10 since their old contract expired on June 30.

Act 10 allows negotiations only on base wages and limits any increase to inflation. It also gives school boards the final word on contracts. Teacher's supplemental pay was unchanged as a part of the agreement.

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