The school board rejected the revised budget proposals at the meeting on March 21st and sent the division back to the drawing board. The school board will meet again on March 28th to discuss and hopefully approve a budget that:
- Provides a step increase for PWCS teachers, not just a 2% salary increase. Estimates are that providing a step increase will require $5 million more in cuts.
- Returns class sizes in MS & HS to their current levels as opposed to the state maximums as proposed in the revised budget. Cost to provide this is estimated at $3.1 million.
Gil Trenum asked that the Devlin Road school not be pushed back a year – estimated cost $2.7 million. Alyson Satterwhite asked that the division consider providing transportation to New Directions, the only school in the division that does not have transportation.
School board members also identified several items they’d prefer not be considered for reductions. These items include:
- Specialty programs
- Transportation for specialty programs
- Employee benefits
- AP / IB / ACT / SAT / PSAT fee subsidies
Because this question has come up several times, here’s a very basic explanation of the difference between steps and salary increases to help folks understand why having a step increase is so important.
Teachers are paid for their years of service and qualification. Years of services are supposed to be equal to steps with grades awarded for different qualification levels. So a teacher with 5 years of service and a Masters will be paid more than a teacher with 5 years of service and a Bachelors, and a teacher with 3 years of service and Bachelors will be paid less than a teacher with 5 years of service and a Bachelors.
Steps are supposed to be the same as years of service, meaning that each year you work as a teacher you go up a step. As you go up a step your salary is supposed to increase. In PWCS a step increase is roughly equal to a 2.89% salary increase, though the exact percentage increase varies for each step and grade.
PWCS has not provided a step increase for a few years, so a teacher with 10 years of experience who should be at Step 10 is still at Step 7, or a teacher with 3 years of service is still at a Step 1.
Why is that important? Equity.
If a teacher moves from another county to PWCS with 10 years of experience at a Step 10, she’ll be hired in PWCS with the salary equivalent for a Step 10. A teacher who has worked for PWCS for 10 years will only be a step 7 and will only be paid the salary equivalent for a Step 7. At roughly 3% per step, that could be as much as a 9% difference in pay, with the long term PWCS employee on the short side.
If a teacher moves from PWCS to another county, she’ll move at her step in PWCS. So that same teacher with 10 years of experience in PWCS who is at a Step 7 would move to another county as a step 7, not a step 10.
PWCS has hired a lot of new teachers in the past few years. Many of those teachers have not received a step increase since they started working here. So a teacher who has been working in PWCS for 3 years is at the same step as a teacher who just started this Fall.
Salary increases do increase base pay, they do accrue to pensions, and they’re even across the board, so they’re better than nothing. But they aren’t steps and if there’s money available for a step increase, then we should find a way to provide one.