By Jacob Mathias
Following an unusually short meeting on Monday, the Stevens Point School Board has approved a 1 percent base wage increase for the 2013-14 school year.
The move brings the district one year closer to being current after post-Act 10 changes stalled negotiations between teachers and the district. The increase was approved unanimously, with Board Member Lisa Totten abstaining from the vote.
The increase affects employees represented by the Stevens Point Area Education Association who were contracted with the district during the 2013-14 school year.
The increase comes after debate between the district and SPAEA which resulted in an impasse for both parties after the board declared the 1 percent would be their final, and immovable, offer.
“It’s unfortunate that in this state there’s not very much to offer teachers,” said Interim Superintendent Lee Bush. “I think that’s the case in many places across the United States but there are some states that seem to be able to find money in their budgets for education. I would be very much hopeful that there is more money in education and maybe next year we could give more.”
No one from the SPAEA spoke at Monday’s meeting.
“I’m basically a teacher myself so I know the hard work that teachers do,” said Bush. “We appreciate them. We try to recognize them in many ways but it’s unfortunate we can’t give them very much.”
Director of Business Services Tom Owens said the increase will cost the district an additional $590,000 in back pay and continue to be applied to base salaries in the future.
At its July meeting, the board made plans to complete all contract negotiations within the next year. The board approved the 2012-13 contracts in May.
Board President Meg Erler called the new contract approval “a step” in a positive direction.
The next regular board meeting is September 14 at 6:30 PM in the Bliss Educational Services Center.