Teacher pay raises go back to committee
by Paisley Boston
Mar 13, 2014 | 3236 views | 0 0 comments | 31 31 recommendations | email to a friend | print
State House of Representatives has rejected teacher pay raise.

There has a great deal of debate over the issue and just when teachers thought they would receive a hike in their salary, the House decided to invite the bill into conference for further negotiation.

"When the House amends a bill and goes to conference, it does not mean that it will not be approved. It is just a difference of opinion," said Sen. Willie Simmons.

Members of the Senate came up with a proposal that would allow teachers to receive a raise over an incremental period.

"Based on the dollar amount that we came up with, I thought that we had a good proposal. During the first year, we had proposed to give teachers a $1,500 raise; second year, $1,000 and the third year monies would have been generated based on the performance of the school," said Simmons.

The House Republican leadership wanted to negotiate with the Senate.

House Democrats argued to take the Senate plan and not risk derailing a pay raise with negotiations.

The vote was 71-50, mostly party line, to negotiate with the Senate.

"I do not know what the rationale was but we were hoping that they would accept it but they amended it," said Simmons.

Earlier in the debate, the House passed a plan that would provide a $4,250 raise over four years.

It included "benchmarks" that veteran teachers would have to meet to receive raises.

The benchmarks, which include a teacher joining a civic club or being absent no more than five days a year, were not well received by educators.

"We are going to stand firm on our position, I felt that it was a very good position.

The teachers seemed to have been supportive of it and I thought it was a good plan. With our plan, the teachers would have received more money and it was going to create an incentive program," added Simmons.

According to Simmons, no matter what the House decides on, he will remain firm in the Senate's proposal.

"I felt like it was a good plan and I don't know why the House of Representatives would oppose it. I thought it was a much better plan then what the House had," he continued.

Simmons said the proposal approved by members of the Senate would not be for the school districts but for the individual schools.

"$75 would be given to any "B" school and $100 would be given to any "A" school. If a school was once rated an "F" and improved by one letter grade then the school would receive $100 each year. These dollars could be used for bonuses for the entire staff of the school. This would be for teachers, principals, custodial workers and many other positions," he said.

"The entire school would benefit from this and it would promote and encourage improvement," added Simmons.

"I wish the House would have sent it on to the Governor for approval. Our proposal would have taken affect July 1, so within the next 18 months teachers would have been able to see a $4,500 increase," he continued.

"At the end of the year, we may end up with what we originally proposed," added Simmons.