New Teacher contract gets positive feedback |

New Teacher contract gets positive feedback

Frank Fisher, of the Record staff

Following a year of district budget cuts and a teacher contract that left many teachers cold, and board members frustrated, teachers and Park City School District and The Park City Education Association believe they have negotiated a contract that will please both sides.

"The teachers voted on the new contract, and we heard all positives," said Education Association president Mike Holland, adding, "Better times definitely makes the process easier to go through."

Last year’s teacher contract was not settled until most of the way through the school year, a year that saw the district scrambling to shore up the waning budget reserves held in the district’s undesignated fund.

"One year ago, it was very different. It was frustrating, said Holland, "not a good situation to be in."

With a now-healthy undesignated fund balance, and one-time bonuses directed to teachers by the state, Holland hopes the shortage of teachers applying to the Park City school district, and schools throughout the state, will ease.

The negotiating team for the district consisted of district board members Kim Carson, Lisa Kirchenheiter, human resource director Tim McConnell, and Martha Crook, the principal of Trailside Elementary School.

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The Education Association was represented by Holland, former association co-president Bob Burns, and teachers Guy Sanderson and Libby Wadman.

"Negotiations began in April, Holland said, with a resolution in late June. "We met a good six or seven times. It’s time consuming to do this for a one-year contract, but it’s definitely worthwhile."

"In our first couple of meetings we the (Association) talked with the board about communication or lack of, on both sides.

After a contract was negotiated, Holland contacted teachers, right before the end of the school year, and they unanimously approved the contract.

The school board voted on the proposed contract, with three in favor, one opposed and one member absent.

Ray Timothy, superintendent of the Park City School District, thinks the new teacher contract is important to bringing new teachers into the district. "I support the board’s decision on the contract. I think it is a matter of supply and demand. I think this compensation package will attract teachers. Why should someone from Salt Lake spend money on gas if they can get paid the same there?"

Holland also hopes the package will attract teachers, even if they have to commute from Salt Lake City.

Holland outlined the highlights of the new contract. Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. and the state Legislature, called for a $2,500 bonus for licensed teachers, but, Holland said each teacher will get a little over $1900, because the money set aside by the legislature did not account for more teachers in the state than were originally reported by the State Office of Education. But, Holland said, the Legislature is contributing another one time bonus of $700-$900 per teacher, which Holland believes teachers will get in December or January.

New teachers will begin at higher pay, with the former first two regular salary increment increases abolished. Holland said this translates to about a $4,000 dollar higher pay for new teachers, which will stay the same for the first three years they teach. That will raise new teacher pay to about $35,000 per year.

Teachers will receive a three percent cost of living increase with step and lane increases, where teachers will receive higher pay according to their years of service and qualifications.

Health insurance coverage will remain unchanged from last year, with full benefits at no cost to the employee, with the district picking up cost increases in policies. "All of us agree that the no-cost health care is a great benefit. We could have taken a four percent cost of living increase, but we took a three percent increase for the nice benefit.

Holland was elected president of the Education Association in April after three years serving as vice president. Bob Burns and Jerry Fiat served as co-presidents.

The board also decided to fund one-half of Holland’s salary, allowing him to teach half day and spend additional hours acting as association president.

I hope to get around to schools, and communicate with Tim (McConnell) weekly and Ray Timothy monthly.

"I think this contract was positive for everybody," Holland said.