Teachers, Park City School District come together to strike a deal | ParkRecord.com

Teachers, Park City School District come together to strike a deal

After months of negotiations, the Park City School District and its teachers have agreed on a compensation package for the next two school years.

The deal was recently struck and ratified by the Park City Education Association, which represents the teachers. It was approved Tuesday by the Board of Education.

Ed Mulick, co-president of the Park City Education Association, said the agreement is a continuation of a movement away from using only the traditional step-and-lane system to dictate raises for individual teachers.

While the framework of a step-and-two-lane model is still in place — teachers get raises for each year they teach in the district (step) as well as for receiving further education, such as a Master’s Degree (lane) — the agreement includes other incentives for teachers.

According to the salary schedule, teachers can earn an additional $2,500 annually for participating in professional development; $500 for completing an action research project; $1,000 for earning an endorsement (up to three endorsements); and $3,000 for earning National Board Certification.

The starting salary for a teacher with a Bachelor’s Degree but no other certification is $40,000 and increases to nearly $69,000 by the 25th year. A teacher with a Master’s Degree would start at $45,000 and increase to about $77,500 by the 25th year.

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"It’s not really merit-based but it’s incentive-based," Mulick said of the structure that includes incentives for endorsements. "If you just want to go in your classroom and teach, that’s great, but that’s not going to really benefit you financially like if you decide to get an endorsement or do a research project."

Other terms of the deal, such as health insurance package details, were not available as of press time. The district’s tentative budget for fiscal year 2015-2016, which was compiled while negotiations were ongoing, shows the district expected to spend an additional roughly $1.5 million as a result of salary increases.

all accounts, the negotiation process was much smoother than the previous round of talks in 2012 and 2013 that took 18 months. Mulick said the sides met 10 times for a total of more than 24 hours.

"Comparing it to last time is like comparing it to Hurricane Katrina. It was the mother of all negotiations," Mulick said. "I would say this was a quite a bit more typical negotiation."

Tim McConnell, associate superintendent of human resources for the district, characterized the agreement as fair for both sides.

"It was a lot of good, genuine hard work," he said. "I felt like we collaborated and stayed focused on the interests of the Board (of Education) and how they were moving forward. It’s really good to have a two-year contract, and I think both sides walked away saying we did a good job."

Jim Fleming, the other co-president of the Park City Education Association, said it’s still difficult for some teachers to live in Park City on the salaries they’re paid, claiming many live in Kamas, Heber or Salt Lake City.

Nonetheless, Fleming and Mulick agreed that Park City’s teachers are well-paid compared to others in the state.

"The secret is to compare yourself to the right people," Mulick said. "If you compare our salaries to other districts in the state of Utah, we have a really fair deal. We’re very well-paid compared to the rest of the state, which is something we have to keep in mind. I think we feel, in general, lucky to teach in this district."