Teachers won't get pay raise

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A pay raise for teachers was not among the items agreed by negotiators when they met Monday to discuss articles of the teacher's contract for next year.

"We do understand what's happening in the economy, and we accept that there will be no pay raise," Marshall County Education Association lead negotiator Kathy Stapleton said.

"All right! We've got a contract," exclaimed the board's lead negotiator Stan Curtis when he heard that the MCEA would accept "no" as the answer to their plea for a two percent raise for teachers.

"It's a second historic moment for Marshall County," said Curtis, the first having been the agreement of the first-ever negotiated contract between the MCEA and the board of education last year.

"This feels good to have it before school starts," said MCEA team member Patty Hill.

Both bodies must ratify the contract. The MCEA plans to vote on the revised contract towards the end of the first week back in school, and the school board will vote at their August meeting.

"I've always been a teacher advocate," said Curtis, as part of his explanation why a raise was not possible. "You haven't had the raises you deserve, but I don't know where we would get any more money." He went on to note that at least Marshall County has not laid off any teachers the way Maury County has.

"Part of my mind understands," Stapleton said. "But every year there's lots of stuff."

"In other years we didn't worry about raises because we had a guaranteed percentage of our insurance paid," negotiator Louis Scheuchenzuber pointed out. "That could easily be done - changing to a percentage would be a big plus."

"Lots of districts are getting scared of that," Curtis said. "Board members would love to see teachers get a raise, but they don't know where they're going to get the money. I can't speak for the funding body. From a personal standpoint I would like to see Marshall County in the Top 10 in everything! I want to attract good people, and reward the ones who stay. Teachers are what impact kids - I'm just trying to provide the resources."

Curtis told the MCEA team that the board had no proposal on Article 10, and that they would like to close negotiations on that article, which deals with fair treatment and just cause.

This followed advice from the board's attorney, Chuck Cagle, at last week's board meeting. Cagle clarified to the board that it was within their power to hold a hearing for a non-tenured teacher whose contract had not been renewed, but that -no matter what they concluded - they had absolutely no power to reinstate that teacher. According to Tennessee state law, the power to renew, or not renew, non-tenured teachers' contracts lies solely with the director of schools. Therefore, no change to Article 10 is possible.

Cagle pointed out that if a hearing were held, all points brought out against a teacher would become public record, and could hurt that teacher's chance of employment in another county.

The Board of Education has to select a new negotiating team for the coming year. Next time the contract is opened for negotiation, Stapleton and Scheuchenzuber promised that coaching supplements, a pay raise for teachers, and getting a guaranteed percentage of insurance premiums paid would certainly be topics for discussion.