Summit School District reaches pay agreement with teachers
SUMMIT COUNTY – Local teachers have agreed to a salary freeze for next school year in efforts to keep costs down in lean times. All scheduled annual pay increases based on seniority will be put on hold.”I really commend the teachers for partnering with us and reaching that difficult conclusion,” superintendent Millie Hamner said.The Summit Board of Education unanimously approved the deal at its meeting Tuesday night.Through the negotiations, the district agreed to continue its policy of offering pay rewards for teachers who complete professional development. According to assistant superintendent Karen Strakbein, the district will be able to meet those costs through savings from staff attrition. Had the district continued to pay its staff according to scheduled seniority-based salary increases for next year, it would have cost more than $300,000.The teachers also agreed to a cut in health benefits, whereby the district will no longer contribute to monthly insurance premiums for employees’ dependents.The school board voted last month to approve $867,000 in cuts from local schools in the wake of declining funds. Had the district not been able to negotiate a salary freeze from teachers, the board would have had to make additional budget reductions.
Later this month, a firm hired by the school district will conduct polling to help determine whether local voters would support a mill levy to help fill funding gaps in Summit Schools and reduce the possibility of further cuts. George K. Baum & Co. will mail a public opinion survey to all active voter households in the county in mid-May and then conduct a poll via phone in late May. The company will gauge overall public support for the schools and test possible ballot language.An existing school district mill levy is set to expire this year. If the district were to ask voters to approve a new one in November, it would not be more than 32 percent of that existing tax – about $40 per year on a home valued at $400,000.The firm will present the results of the polling to the Summit Board of Education in June.Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-4630 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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