School bargaining team talks compensation; no agreement reached | SteamboatToday.com

School bargaining team talks compensation; no agreement reached

Teresa Ristow

The Steamboat Springs School District administration offices at 325 Seventh St.

— After more than four hours of discussion Wednesday, Steamboat Springs School District Collaborative Bargaining Team was unable to agree on a possible raise for school employees.

The team discussed several options for increasing pay for teachers and classified staff, including whether to give employees a full, step increase, a smaller percentage increase in compensation or a combination of increases, or steps, along with separate raises for employees topped out on a given lane of the employee salary schedule.

For eligible employees, a step equates to a 2.5 percent salary increase for teachers, also called licensed employees, and a 4 percent increase for classified employees. Licensed employees are placed in lanes based on their level of education and can move lanes if they complete increasing amounts of schooling.

The CBT group had partial consensus on an option that would have given full-step increases to eligible licensed and classified employees, but the team got caught up in the details of whether to give increases to licensed employees who were ineligible for steps based on their placement on the district's salary schedule.

Step increases for the upcoming year would cost about $255,000 for licensed staff and $50,000 for classified staff, several of whom are topped out on the salary schedule and ineligible for a step increase.

Based on the district's difficult budget year, giving a step increase without identifying more reductions in other areas could lead to deficit spending.

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"With this particular (budget) year, we are really struggling," said CBT member and school board member Sam Rush, also a former school district teacher. "For us to go into further deficit spending, it hurts the district. It hurts the entire district … Every little bit adds up in years like this."

Past a scheduled 8 p.m. end to the meeting, the team's mediators said it was clear CBT would need to meet again.

The team plans to meet again May 10 and hopes to have more clear information from the school board on its position on funding different levels of raises. District administration hopes to have more clarity on some moving parts of the budget by that time, as well.

Any compensation changes agreed upon by CBT will be subject to the final approval of the school board.

"We made progress," said Superintendent Brad Meeks at the end of Wednesday's meeting, which focused primarily on compensation. "We're getting close."

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow