Salary Boosts for Utah Teachers Offset by Insurance Premiums

Salary Boosts for Utah Teachers Offset by Insurance Premiums

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Teachers in all but three of Utah's school districts are getting at least slight pay raises, but rising insurance costs mean many educators won't be taking extra money home, according to a teacher's union.

As of Friday, 34 of 40 school districts, and some 90 percent of Utah's 22,200 school teachers, are starting the school year with a contract or tentative agreement.

In districts with agreements, the average pay raise is 0.84 percent, said Jim Eldredge, Utah Education Association director of legislative services. That's a little more than half the 1.5 percent increase in the state's weighted pupil unit, the per-student funding formula that generally sets benchmarks for teacher pay hikes.

"The feeling is that budgets are really tight. (Teachers) haven't had raises for a couple of years, and even this year isn't really that significant an increase," Eldredge said. "I worry and hope we can see something happen next year that will address that issue."

The raises can vary -- even within individual districts. Eldredge said Jordan, Tooele and Carbon teachers received no across-the-board raise.

But some 1,500 top-scale Jordan teachers will get a 0.5 percent pay increase, union leaders have said.

In Salt Lake City, teachers will get money for climbing up the job ladder and a 1.49 percent general raise. But an average 30 percent increase in insurance costs is leaving some in the hole, Salt Lake Teachers Association President Elaine Tzourtzouklis said.

The district will cover up to an 8 percent increase on the premiums, while teachers will foot the bill for the rest.

In Granite, teachers are voting on a tentative agreement which would allow a 1.25 percent raise, but also increase the insurance burden on married educators.

In Utah County, Alpine teachers will see a 0.61 percent raise, and Nebo and Provo 1 percent, said Linda Peterson, executive director of Bonneville UniServ, the regional UEA branch.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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