Seymour teachers to get raises

Most Seymour Community Schools teachers can expect to receive a 4 percent pay raise during the next two years.

The Seymour Education Association recently reached a contract agreement with the school board that includes salary increases along with a $1,000 stipend for top-earning teachers to be paid in the second year of the contract.

The contract is in effect from July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2017.

“Every teacher who qualifies for advancement on the salary schedule may move up,” Superintendent Rob Hooker said during a school board meeting Tuesday.

All teachers who met leadership requirements or attended at least six hours of professional development during the summer and who were evaluated in the top two evaluation categories in 2014-15 will receive a 2 percent base salary increase this school year. Another 2 percent raise will go into effect for 2016-17.

That means new teachers with a bachelor’s degree will earn $766 more this school year for an annual salary of $39,071 and $781 more next year. Teachers with a master’s degree and 30 years of experience in teaching and at least 21 years at Seymour Community Schools will earn $1,425 more this year for an annual salary of $72,699 and $1,454 more in 2016-17.

“We have included leadership points in the contract to further enhance the responsibilities of our teaching staff,” said Cheryl Fenton, SEA president and longtime Seymour Middle School teacher. “Many teachers put in extra time, duties and training for their careers, and this is reflected in leadership points earned.”

Fenton said SEA members were ready to accept the contract.

“We were pretty much able to get this round finished in one long day of work, with some extra conversations to clarify points of consideration,” she said.

The corporation’s contributions to teacher health savings accounts will remain the same if the district’s annual daily membership count this fall is 4,550 students and 4,600 in 2016-17.

Those contributions, made in January, vary from $1,000 to $1,500 for a single high-deductible plan and $2,000 to $3,000 for a family plan, said Steve Nauman, corporation business manager.

The contract impacts teachers in the corporation, Fenton said, not just SEA members.

“That we were able to get a two-year agreement is great,” she said.

Nauman said the total number of teachers affected is 261.

A major concern for teachers and school districts at this point is the state’s delay in getting ISTEP+ tests scored and returned, Fenton said.

“These scores impact the figuring of salaries and stipends,” she said.

But by working with the school board and administrators, Fenton said teachers and the corporation as a whole are able to accomplish more.

“The association enjoys a good working relationship with our administration, and we know that by working together, we have been and will continue to be one of the best opportunities for a good education in our area,” she said.

Hooker said the agreement shows how important teachers are and that they should be compensated justly.

“I appreciate the message you are sending to our teachers and staff from the board and administration that we value and appreciate our public school teachers,” he said.

Hooker said he and the board are aware of some buildings, grade levels and classrooms that are “extremely crowded,” and that they continue to work to find solutions to help students and teachers.

“We’re in a unique situation here because our enrollment is allowing us to grow, which brings in more revenue, yes, but brings more students to educate and the challenges involved,” Hooker said.

Also, as part of the new agreement, administrator positions were excluded from SEA’s collective bargaining process with the school board.