Friday, May 14, 2010

No raises for teachers this year

School board webcast malfunctions

Express Staff Writer

Julie Dahlgren Paul Bates John Blackman

For the second year in a row, the Blaine County Education Association has agreed to forego pay raises, but association members will not have to take a pay cut, as has been proposed in other school districts in Idaho.

With members of the association not getting raises, other Blaine County School District employees will not get them either because pay increments negotiated with the association are applied to all employees.

The only exceptions are teachers who have moved to higher education or experience levels. The association and the district have agreed that those teachers will be paid at the higher salary structure levels.

Results of negotiations with the association were announced at Tuesday night's school board meeting by board Chair Julie Dahlgren.

"It's such a crisis year," Dahlgren said Wednesday. "One more year without raises."

Like other school districts in Idaho, the Blaine County School District is facing state funding cuts for fiscal 2011, which starts in July.

District Business Manager Mike Chatterton said in an interview that the district's state funding loss will be about $1 million. He said the district can absorb most of the loss through its reserve fund, but that some cuts may be necessary. Cuts, if any, have not yet been decided but will be determined in next year's budget, which is still being written, Chatterton said.

Also at Tuesday's meeting, the school board decided to make live Internet broadcasts of school board meetings a permanent feature. Ironically, though, the webcast of Tuesday's meeting experienced technical difficulties and wasn't available for viewing.

"I didn't realize it hadn't been shooting until well into the meeting," said Trustee Paul Bates, who convinced the school board in January to approve a pilot for the webcasts. Since then, four school board meetings have been successfully shown live.

Bates said he wasn't sure what caused the glitch Tuesday, but said, "I suspect we'll have the problem solved and I apologize for the inconvenience."

The board also reviewed a survey conducted to show if teachers and parents favored continuing "Collaboration Day," when students are released earlier and teachers at various district schools meet to discuss teaching strategies.

According to the survey, 66.7 percent of the teachers who responded favored continuing the program.

An even higher percentage of parents approved of the program, with 73.2 percent voting to continue. The survey shows that 770 parents voted.

Collaboration Day is held one Friday per month. Teachers get together on those days to discuss teaching methodology, best practices and coordination of curriculum.

Wood River High School Principal John Blackman, who will become the district assistant superintendent in July, said the program will be continued next year because of overall approval from parents and teachers.

Terry Smith:

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