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Salt Lake teachers offered 4.1% pay hike; $46,846 starting pay under tentative deal

By Marjorie Cortez | Updated - Aug 8th, 2019 @ 4:54pm | Posted - Aug 8th, 2019 @ 1:41pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake teachers would receive a 4.1% pay raise and retain their step and lane system, which compensates them for years of experience and education attainment, under the teacher association’s tentative agreement with the school district.

Under the agreement, starting pay for teachers would rise from $45,000 annually to $46,846. Teachers would also experience no increase to their health insurance premiums.

Both Canyons and Murray districts increased their starting pay for teachers to $50,000 for the coming school year. Jordan raised starting pay to $48,000.

Teachers in the Granite School District will start at $43,483 with no increase in health insurance premiums, and the district just opened a clinic that provides comprehensive medical and pharmaceutical services for all contract employees and their dependents at no cost.

Earlier this year, the school district and Salt Lake Education Association negotiators declared an impasse after they could not reach an agreement and they mutually agreed to federal mediation.

The parties met with a federal mediator on July 10 and announced the same day that they had reached a tentative agreement, but agreed not to release the details until Aug. 7.

Salt Lake Education Association President James Tobler said ratification of the tentative agreement is up to the members. The association’s executive board is neither recommending the agreement nor urging members to reject it, he said.

"We pride ourselves on being a democratic organization. If they want to amp up our campaign, if they voted down this agreement, we'd have to do some more on our end to leverage the district," Tobler said.

Asked if he meant a job action, Tobler said, "Yeah, if members vote it down. I don't think they will. My feedback has been pretty positive so far. I think 4.1% is OK. It's better than the initial offer and we definitely see retaining our current salary schedule as a victory."

He credited members’ participation in public rallies and school board meetings for retention of the steps and lanes system in the tentative agreement.

In a statement, Tobler said association members "feel like a 6% increase to our current steps and lanes was a reasonable way forward, we’re encouraged that the district agreed to retain our current salary schedule."

But in contract negotiations, both sides have to compromise, he said.

"It is now up to SLEA members to decide whether to accept the tentative agreement. Whatever the result of our ratification vote, we look forward to working with the Salt Lake City School District and the Salt Lake City School Board to improve education for our students and to strengthen careers in education to attract and retain the best educators,” Tobler said.

The Utah Legislature should make a greater effort to raise teacher compensation statewide and the school board should do more to compensate all public education employees, he said.

The association's ratification vote will be conducted Aug. 16-21, Tolber said.

The agreement must also be approved by the Salt Lake City Board of Education, which meets again on Sept. 3.

If approved, the salary increase will be included on the teachers’ first checks for the 2019-20 school year, to be issued in mid-September.

Salt Lake City School District Superintendent Lexi Cunningham expressed gratitude to district and association negotiation teams for "their many hours of discussions that led to this tentative agreement."

“It took hard work and compromise from all sides to reach this deal. I sincerely hope all of our teachers recognize how much the board of education values them and the enormous efforts that went into reaching this agreement,” Cunningham said in a statement.

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