EC school board members defend teachers' pay hike
Oct 17, 2012 (Menafn - The Leader-Telegram - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --The 1.6 percent bump in teachers' wages the Eau Claire school district approved Monday is warranted despite the budgetary pressures the district faces, several school board members said Tuesday.
"It's a modest increase well within the restrictions placed on local school boards," school board member Trish Cummins said. "We're working within the parameters placed on us, but we're still trying to be a community that values education."
The increase will add 556,222 to the district's 2012-13 budget and will mean an additional 679 in salary for teachers.
With the exception of last year, when compensation actually declined because of changes in state law requiring they pay more for health insurance and pensions, this increase would be the smallest teachers have received in a long time, school board member Brent Wogahn said.
Wogahn said there's no question the school board will face a difficult budget going into the 2013-14 school year.
"We are tight on funds," he said. Wogahn said the district will have to try and find ways to save money.
Other school board members have said the district could pursue an operating referendum for 2013-14.
The board approved the increase on a 4-1 vote. School board member Wendy Sue Johnson, the lone dissenter, was not reached for comment Tuesday. School board member Ken Faanes abstained, and school board member Bob Janke was absent.
School districts were only allowed to raise "base wages" 3.16 percent for next year under new state law.
Wogahn said the concept of "base wages" -- which doesn't necessarily equate to the full wage a teacher earns -- complicated the negotiating process somewhat.
He said the approved 1.6 increase refers to total wages the district will pay out. He said the approved increase to base wages was 2 percent.
In Tuesday's edition, it was incorrectly reported that the school district approved a 1.6 percent increase to base wages.
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