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Better late than never: Milton teachers have new contract

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Stacy Vogel
September 23, 2008
— Milton teachers waited more than a year for their raises, but they finally will get them, with back pay, after the Milton School Board approved their contract Monday night.

The contract calls for a 3.6 percent raise in the 2007-08 school year. Teachers will see that increase in a retroactive payment. They will then receive a 2.5 percent increase over that for the 2008-09 school year.


Teachers approved the contract last week, nearly 15 months after the 2005-07 contract expired.


Teachers will see a package increase of 4.2 percent in salary and benefits for each year of the contract. The benefit increase is lower and the salary increase higher for 2007-08 because the district switched to a different health insurance plan that year.


Highlights of the teacher contract, according to a joint news release, include:


-- Compensation for a new certification process. Under the National Board of Certification, teachers start as beginning educators and must be certified as professional educators within five years. They then have the option to get certified as master educators.


The contract awards six credits for advancement on the salary schedule for completion of the professional development plans necessary to move up to the next level. It also awards a $1,300 annual stipend to teachers who choose to become certified as master educators.


"The requirements to get to be a master educator are much more vigorous than professional educator," Superintendent Bernie Nikolay said. "We would like as many of our teachers to do that as possible because we think that's a really good thing to do to improve their practice."


-- Pay increase from $21 an hour to $23 an hour for summer school teachers.


-- Teachers now can use two of their 11 sick days as personal days. Previously, they could use only one day as a personal day unless administration granted them a "special circumstances day."


-- Dental plan change from a $1,000 coverage maximum to a $2,000 maximum.


-- Compensation for advisors to the Future Business Leaders of America and the Gay-Straight Alliance at the high school.


The new benefits package puts all teachers on one plan that covers full costs when patients use a preferred provider.


Teachers are happy with the new insurance plan and salary increase, union president Shelly Kress said.


"Of course, we were looking to go a little bit higher than that (with salaries), but we are happy with the increase," she said.


One item the teachers did not get was a limit to class sizes. The teachers had hoped to limit class sizes to 25 or get extra compensation for teachers with larger classes.


Teachers are worried that as class sizes creep up, they won't be able to provide enough attention to each student, Kress said.


But Kress is hopeful the district and union can continue to discuss that issue as it heads into the next bargaining session, she said. The new contract expires June 30, 2009.



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