Frigid Fall Freezes Wages

Wage Freeze
Friday Oct 30, 09
Teachers and Other District Staff Agree to a Pay Freeze

At the Monday, October 26 school board meeting, the board took action to approve a one year pay freeze for the teachers' and other district employees' contracts for the 2009-10 school year.  
Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose Schools (BHM) Human Resource Director Moreen Martell presented the results of the negotiations. Martell said that they began negotiations with members of the district's teacher negotiations committee, on July 9, to meet and negotiate a "master agreement" (contract) covering 2009-11.  A tentative agreement was reached late in September and the teachers voted to ratify the agreement on Wednesday, October 21. The teachers understood the district's financial situation and agreed to a pay freeze for year one (2009-10) of their contract.
Teachers' union representatives came to the table this summer knowing the results of two years of budget cuts, and understanding the instability of state funding in the short and long-term.  The proposed teachers' contract took it all into account. The pay scale for this school year is froze at the 2008-09 level. The only teachers who will receive a pay adjustment are the 56 teachers (out of 357 teachers total) who completed the required credits for on-going learning increases. That means 84 percent of the teaching staff will have their pay frozen this 2009-10 school year. For 2010-11, a two percent pay improvement was approved. Overall, the teachers' package includes only a three percent improvement, total, over two years. This includes all costs of the contract such as insurance, FICA and more.
Teachers' union chief negotiator Kip Wold commented after the negotiations process,"Considering the financial situation and the fact we (teachers) had to take a freeze, this was one of the best negotiations I have had with the board.  This board team was especially respectful of our table team and the issues we brought to the table.  They were great to work with!"
"The district's financial plight has been well documented over the past two years as we have asked residents to open up their pocket books to provide more revenue to sustain services and programs due to the stagnation of state funding," noted superintendent Jim Bauck to the board. "Tonight, various employees and employee groups, via their contracts, are indicating their willingness to pitch in and help the district's financial bottom line.  While the district by law has to bargain in good-faith contracts with its employees, these employees have stepped forward over the past few months to show their 'good-faith' in this district and community."
Bauck went on to list the other staff in the district who agreed to a pay freeze and that the board approved in the "personnel consent agenda" portion of the meeting:

  • Superintendent
  • Principals
  • Directors-finance and operations, teaching and learning, special education, human resources, community education, food service, buildings and grounds 
  • Technology Staff-information systems coordinator, senior technicians, technology supervisor
  • Non-Affiliated-controller, communications coordinator, payroll supervisor, secretary to the director of

finance and operations, secretary to the director of human resources, secretary to the superintendent and board of education, mental health practitioner/program assistant, Phoenix Learning Center Coordinator, family advocate-co-located therapist, and cultural liaison
All of these employees' pay will remain at the 2008-09 level. 
Martell will continue to work with the remaining employee groups to review their contracts (clerical, food service, custodians, educational support professionals and community education); therefore, there may be additional good news at the November 23 school board meeting.  
Bauck went on to highlight that the school board's actions to approve the contracts indicates a number of positives for the district. "What this says for us tonight is that, the district has a good working relationship with its employees; our employees are cognizant of the district's financial plight; our employees are willing to step up and make a difference; and finally, the cost savings from this action (to be tabulated at the end of the process, but will roughly exceed over $500,000) will significantly help the district's financial bottom line.
Before making the final call for the vote to approve the teachers' contracts, School Board Chair Dave Wilson stated that Martell and all the other staff involved did a great job with this process and what the board was asking her to do.