Board grants raises
It's official. The Baldwin School District teachers will have a contract and a raise for the 2007-08 school year.
The teachers ratified the contract last week before the Baldwin School Board approved the negotiated agreement 7-0 Monday night. The teachers will receive a 6.5 percent salary increase for the upcoming school year.
"It was very decisive,' Head Negotiator Mike Curran said of the teachers ratifying vote. "I don't remember exactly what the vote was, but it was a decisively yes vote."
Ande Parks, board member and negotiating team member, was pleased both sides agreed on the contract.
"We worked so hard for a long time," Parks said. "It's great for the board to sign off on it and be done with it. As I've said before, the teachers were patient with us through our financial difficulty. We wanted to make them our top priority and pay them as much as we can."
During this past school year, the teachers worked off of the 2005-06 contract. The $300,000 shortfall discovered in August forced the board to freeze the contract for one year. Last year was the first time in years that the teachers have not received a salary increase.
Curran said the teachers will be pleased to have a contract for a school year before it begins, because it hasn't happened in years.
"It's nice to be done," Curran said. "This is the first time in a number of years that teachers will have a contract when they come back to school, which will be nice. They will have their salary and their contract signed. It will be nice to have that happen.
"This represents a two-year raise," he said. "We were frozen out in 2006-07 and we got absolutely zero. Now we will get 6.5 percent. It does represent two years, but it's a nice chunk of money. We're excited about getting a raise this year."
The teachers will not be the only ones receiving salary increases for the upcoming year. Most administrators will receive a 4 percent increase, but there are a few exceptions.
Supt. Paul Dorathy's salary will jump up 6.5 percent. Parks said the board wanted to give Dorathy a larger raise than the other administrators for his diligent work during his first year in the district.
"We wanted to send a clear message that we were pleased with him," Parks said. "We wanted to let people know that we want to keep him around for a while. We also wanted to send him a message as well telling him that he is valuable to our district. In my opinion, it starts at the top with him."
Transportation Director Linda Russell, Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center Principal Deb Ehling-Gwin and administrative assistant and clerk of the board Laura Morford will all receive raises greater than 4 percent.
All classified staff members will receive a portion of a stipend. The exact amount of the stipend depends on year-end finances, but can be up to $30,000. The money will be distributed evenly to classified employees.
Curran was pleased the board was able to make the district's teacher salaries competitive with area schools.
"I was pleased the board was able to find the money to get what the teachers believed they needed to get them on their way to catching up with the rest of the area," Curran said. "We've got some things to work on still, but that's on down the road."