District's teachers get slight pay hike

Ashland teachers and classified workers will receive a 1.8 percent increase in salary on average next academic year, but will not get cost-of-living increases, Superintendent Juli Di Chiro announced Tuesday.

The classified and teachers' employee unions reached similar agreements with district officials this month and last month, respectively, and are expected to ratify the agreements within the next two weeks, Di Chiro said.

"I think we were able to come to a mutually satisfactory agreement," she said. "The district wishes it was in a better financial position to help on salary and benefits more, but that's just not possible right now."

Teachers, who are represented by the Ashland Education Association, will receive 3.25 percent salary increases if they are eligible, but will have their pay reduced by two days, because the School Board voted to shorten the calendar for the next academic year.

The average raise amount is lower than 3.25 percent because of the two cut days and because employees who have reached the top of the salary range are not eligible for the raise, Di Chiro said.

For those eligible for the raise, however, the 3.25 percent will carry forward into future years.

The Oregon School Employees Association, which represents classified workers, agreed to the same terms. Classified workers include educational assistants, cafeteria workers and janitors.

The salary and benefits agreements already have been factored into the district's tentative budget for next academic year and are projected to cost $20.5 million, Di Chiro said. Salary and benefits costs make up about 80 percent of the district's $25.8 million general fund budget, she said.

Those costs are projected to increase by 3.4 percent next academic year, due to the salary increases and because of an increase in Public Employee Retirement System costs the district must pay, Di Chiro said.

After taking salary cuts for two years in a row, teachers received a 2 percent cost-of-living increase this academic year and received full pay because no school days were cut.

One of the two cut days for the next school year will be an instructional day; the other will be a professional development day. Teachers are scheduled to be paid for 188 days, not including the cut days, next academic year, Di Chiro said. Of those, 175 are instructional days, eight are professional development days and five are holidays.

The School Board is expected to vote on the final salary agreements for next academic year at its June 13 meeting, Di Chiro said. District officials are still working to finalize salary agreements for administrators and other district workers, she said.

Contact reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-708-1158 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.

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