The Port Washington-Saukville School Board approved a 2.34 percent increase to 2012-13 teachers' salaries on Monday night, a change negotiated differently than previous years following the passing of Wisconsin Act 10, which eliminated collective bargaining in areas other than salary.
"I want to commend both the teacher group and the board group," Superintendent Michael Weber said. "There was a lot of ... give and take, and we're negotiating in times that we've never seen before ... and so with that as a backdrop, the teacher and the board teams did well together."
The increase is retroactive to the beginning of the school year. In a district with an average salary of $61,749, according to data from the Wisconsin Department of Pubic Instruction, that's about a $1,445 average increase in annual pay. The School Board on Monday also approved a 2 percent increase in pay for food service staff and other hourly workers in the district.
"Obviously each side has different wants and needs, but in the end (our goal) is to make sure we're doing what's right for our kids and our district," Board President James Eden said of the increase, adding that the amount recognizes the teachers' hard work while keeping the district competitive.
"That’s what we’re here for. We’re here for our students and our district, and we’re here really as a team," he said.
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The salary increase was negotiated on a wage-only basis, meaning any employee benefits could not be discussed. However, Eden did add after the approval that he would like the board to make note to consider adding incentives for teachers who decide to continue their own education.
While Act 10 does not allow for educational incentives to be provided in any type of labor contract, according to Politifact.com, districts are free "to give teachers additional pay for higher education outside any labor contract."
"I think it is important that as a district we support teachers from a salary standpoint who go on to get extra degrees," Eden said. "It demonstrates their commitment to education (and) it also brings that further education into the classroom … and creates a better teaching and learning environment for our students."
Across the state, University of Wisconsin schools have seen a decline in graduate enrollment — a drop in 4 percent among the 4-year campuses, according to TheNorthwestern.com. While some of this is attributed to the economy, the masters degree programs for teachers have seen an impact from the passing of Act 10 — with estimates being as high as a 35 percent drop in teacher enrollment to graduate programs.
"We do need to recognize ... our teachers (that) invest in (these educational experiences)," Eden said, "and we need to recognize that in some performance kind of way."