Teacher contract negotiations come to an end | ParkRecord.com

Teacher contract negotiations come to an end

Cole Fullmer, The Park Record

On Friday, May 24, with a unanimous vote, the Park City Board ratified the compensation contract for licensed teachers, ending the months of negotiations.

When the Park City Education Association and the Park City School District started negotiating new teacher contract in April of 2012, neither side anticipated the discussions would take that long, nor include a mediator to help reach a decision.

But, despite the delay, Park City High School teachers and co-presidents for the PCEA, Jim Fleming and Ed Mulick, say the extra time used to hammer out the new contract was worth the three-year contract it produced.

"This is going to be great for all of the parties," Fleming said. "With this extra time, the association can build a better relationship with the district and the next go-around can go smoother. Now we can work on focusing on the most important thing, teaching the kids."

The traditional Step and Lane model that has been used in the PCSD for over 20 years, is taking on a remodel.

The formula, which allows teachers to be compensated for advances in their education, is sticking to its principles, but changes are going to be made to reward teachers for their loyalty, added Fleming.

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"The new salary schedule has far-reaching effects," Mulick said. "We look forward to testing what we have developed."

When fully implemented, the district’s new salary schedule will work with Senate Bill 64, a bill passed last year to tie teacher salaries to effective evaluations.

According to Mulick, instead of receiving compensation for earning higher degrees, teachers will also receive effective evaluations from the district before a step, or pay raise, can be advanced.

"Under our old salary schedule there were dead ends, years when teachers were frozen and did not advance for a number of years," Mulick said. "Using the new salary schedule, every teacher qualifying for a step will be able to earn additional compensation."

A new concept to the district, and the state, extra earning opportunities, also called endorsements, will give teachers an opportunity to add to their salaries determined by the step-and-lane model.

Endorsements, which are based on academic groups taught by teachers, tie additional salary to larger district goals while keeping pressure on teachers to perform and improve. An opportunity to earn a bonus for meeting a school-wide goal is also part of the new contract.

Teachers will only be accredited for one endorsement, which entails a $1,000 stipend, but the contract allows for changes to be made, added Fleming.

The finalized contract adopts an employee insurance cost-sharing plan recommended by the insurance recommendation committee.

According to Mulick, the committee, which was formed to help the district contain insurance costs, recommended the district employees pick up an additional 10 percent of their insurance costs, moving from 20 percent to 30.

The last topic to be discussed, and changed, is the new salary schedule. Entry level pay for first-time teachers with a bachelor’s degree is now $40,000, and a starting salary for a first year teacher with a master’s degree is $45,000.

According to Mulick, teachers will not earn less than current salaries; everyone will have a chance to earn more.

"The compensation agreement was a cloud over everybody’s head," Fleming said. "It’s nice to have the negotiations in the past. Now we can focus on class size, teacher input and evaluations. Not everybody understands the new contract really well, but I think it will be a good direction for the future and work well with the current Senate Bill 64."