The association representing Marshall County's teachers asked for a two percent pay raise for teachers at this week's negotiating session.
"We've heard no justification for not giving us an increase," said MCEA lead negotiator Kathy Stapleton. "There's got to be some kind of bright spot for teachers - how do we explain to them that everything's going up except their pay?"
"Where is there money that I don't know about?" responded Stan Curtis, the board of education's lead negotiator. "We've done a pretty good job of keeping our staff intact when other counties are laying off teachers. The stimulus money has helped."
The Marshall County Education Association met with the board of education's negotiating team on Tuesday, and got agreement on several of their proposals, while others, including the pay raise, will be considered at future sessions.
Differentiated pay for teachers who go back to school for higher degrees and advanced certification will now be included in the annual budget, instead of being "subject to funding." The amount is to be capped at $20,000 per year.
"We think it's a nice beginning," Stapleton said. "We hope it helps with recruiting teachers."
Retirement insurance for teachers was also discussed.
"The intent is to reward those with years of service to Marshall County," said Curtis. "We do want loyalty," he added.
"It's something that keeps good teachers here," said Stapleton.
"Yes," confirmed budget director Janet Wiles. "We've got people who want to come because our retirement insurance is better than other counties."
The board of education agreed they were comfortable with modifying the conditions for receiving retirement insurance: requiring three years of teaching in the county immediately before retirement, instead of the previous five. This is for teachers with at least 15 years of service in the county, rather than the 20 years needed before.
"Lots of systems are backing off (from retirement insurance) because the liability is huge," Wiles pointed out. "The state may require us to set up a liability in the budget of what retirement insurance would cost."
At their next negotiation meeting on July 13, the MCEA wants the board of education to look at their proposal on Article 10 (fair treatment and just cause), and also, of course, to consider the pay raise. Curtis confirmed that discussion of Article 10 is on the July board meeting agenda. His team wants better direction from the board on how to proceed with changing the article if, in fact, they decide a change is needed.