After six months of negotiations, the Salt Lake School District and its teacher and administrator representatives have agreed on contracts that will boost teachers' and principals' salaries by 2 percent and raise the starting teacher's salary by $1,798 or 11.7 percent.
The vote makes Salt Lake District, which has 1,200 teachers, one of the few districts to give teachers a significant pay raise this year. Millard gave its teachers a 4.5 percent increase; but most Utah schoolteachers went without raises for the third consecutive year.In an unanimous vote, the Salt Lake Board of Education approved the contract, which is retroactive to the beginning of the school year. The board also approved a 2.5 percent increase for all classified employees, including bus drivers, buildings and grounds workers and secretaries.
The classified employees got a slightly higher pay raise because last year the teachers received a .5 percent raise, said district business manager Gary Harmer.
Harmer said the long negotiations were not more difficult than in previous years.
The real battle occurred over the increase of starting teacher salaries, Harmer said. Under the new contract, the first three steps on the teacher salary schedule are eliminated and first-year teachers will begin at $17,168, compared to $15,370 last year.
Utah Education Association Associate Director Dee Burningham praised the Salt Lake action. "This is a major breakthrough needed to have better pay for beginning teachers in Utah."
The new salary makes it one of the state's highest for beginning teachers, but it is still below those in Park City and Emery.
Karline Grief, president of the Salt Lake Teachers Association, praised the board.
In a 4-2 vote, the board also approved terms of contract for Superintendent John W. Bennion, who, along with other district administrators, received a 2 percent raise.
Bennion's salary will be $77,030. Other benefits will include an insurance investment package provided all administrators, a transportation and expense allowance of $4,860 and an annuity of $7,200.
Board members Lorna Matheson and Carolyn Kump, who voted against Bennion's contract renewal in June, cast the dissenting votes. Board Vice President Stephen G. Boyden, who also opposed Bennion's renewal, was out of town.