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Teachers to get raise

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    Posted: Oct 27 2015 at 10:25am
Middletown teachers to get pay raise

By Rick McCrabb
Staff Writer
Middletown City Schools District teachers and classified employees will receive a 1.5 percent raise and up to a $500 retention payment after the board approved the resolution at its meeting Monday night.

The 1.5 percent wage increase takes effect for the 2016-17 school year and full-time employees, those who work 30 or more hours a week, will receive a $500 retention payment, while part-time employees will receive $250. The payments will be made on June 30, 2016, but the payments must be repaid if the employee leaves the district before the 2016-17 school year, said Randy Bertram, the district treasurer. Teachers who retire after the 2015-16 school year won’t have to repay the retention, he said.

Superintendent Sam Ison, Bertram, Dom Williams, president of the Middletown Teachers Association, and Carol Boosinger, president of the Middletown Classified Employees Association, met with the Journal-News before the board meeting to discuss the announcement.

Ison said the raise and retention payment were possible because of the sacrifices made by the district and its improved financial outlook. He hopes the raise increase affords the district an opportunity to compete with neighboring districts for future employees.

“We do appreciate our staff and the sacrifices they have made over the years,” Ison said.

Last month, Bertram said the district’s financial forecast improved “significantly” since May because it reduced staff, replaced veteran teachers with less experienced staff, and was expected to received additional in state funding.

He said the district could receive $13.4 million in state funding over the next five years. He said Middletown is scheduled to receive 7.5 percent more in state funding in 2016 and 2017 — the highest allowed by the state — and forecast to receive 5 percent more annually in 2018 through 2020.

During the same time, the district is predicting lower expenses on employee payroll and benefits, he said. That’s because 140 teachers/staff left the district after last school year and 21 positions weren’t replaced, Bertram said. Those teachers and staff who were hired are costing the district lower salaries and benefits because of their work inexperience, he said.

Compared to the May forecast, the September forecast calls for salaries to drop nearly $1.3 million from $27.6 million to $26.3 million. Benefits also are expected to fall almost $1.1 million from $9.6 million to $8.5 million, he said.

Over the next five years, from now to fiscal year 2020, Bertram is forecasting the district’s beginning balance will rise from $2.6 million this year to $18.1 million in 2020 and the ending balances from $6.3 million to $20.6 million.

There are about 400 members in the MTA and 70 in the MCEA. The district has about 6,500 students enrolled this year.

Williams said he was “very pleased” by the board’s approval of the wage increases and retention payment.

“This goes a long way toward putting trust behind the work we have done in the past,” he said of contract negotiations. “Trying to get them (MTA members) to believe that we had an accurate understanding of the district’s financial situation.”

Since the district and the MTA had a signed contract through June 30, 2017, there was no reason for the district to extend this offer to the union members, he said.

“This shows that our relationship is important enough to come back,” Williams said. “This is a gigantic step toward improving the relationship.”

Ison said the district and the unions negotiated in “good faith” during the 2014-15 school year when the financial status was “tight.” Since the 2011-12 school year, Ison said, the entire staff has taken a 1 percent pay reduction for two years, or 2 percent total, and step increases were frozen for five years. During that same time, he said, staff picked up an additional 10 percent of its health insurance, or 20 percent total.

Ison said Middletown was one of only two districts in Ohio that took a reduction in salary after Senate Bill 5 passed in 2010.

Last year, the staff received a 1 percent increase with no step, and 2 percent this year, with no step.

Bertram said that a teacher who earns $50,000 a year now will receive $750 more per year, plus the $500 retention payment. He said it was hard to put a price on the value of step increase because they vary from teacher to teacher, depending on their years of service.
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