Funding crisis affects teacher salaries in Jackson district

Friday, July 11, 2003

The state funding crisis that has forced Jackson School District to make major cuts to next year's budget has made its way into teacher's pocketbooks.

Although Jackson teachers will receive a raise next year, it will not be as large as in previous years.

During their meeting Thursday night, the Jackson School Board approved a salary schedule that gives teachers an average 1 percent raise over 2002-03 pay. In recent years, raises have averaged a 3 percent salary increase.

The move brings a savings of around $80,000 to the school district.

"It's not much of a raise, but it is a raise," said superintendent Dr. Ron Anderson. "I know they'd like more, but I think everyone knows that's not a reality. We simply can't fund the last year's schedule."

Jackson's salary schedule is based on continued education and number of years with the district. For each year employed with the district, teachers move down a notch on the schedule to a higher schedule. Likewise, as teachers acquire more education -- a set number of credit hours beyond a bachelor's degree for each step on the salary schedule -- they receive more pay.

While next year's schedule maintains the same rate of pay raise for increased education, the raise rate for years of employment has decreased from the 2002-03 schedule. The schedule's base salary, which represents that of a first-year teacher, also saw no increase.

It's just one of several cost-saving moves the district has made in response to a loss in next year's state financial aid. Already, officials have phased out 17 positions through attrition, which will mean larger class sizes for the remaining teachers.

While the thought of more work and more students next year, as well as less of a pay raise than normal, is not a pleasant one, most teachers have taken the news in stride.

"I think everyone realizes the money crunch, and they're willing to do what they can to help the budget," said Marilyn Jansen, a math teacher at R.O. Hawkins Junior High and chair of the Community Teachers Association salary committee.

The school board approves a salary schedule annually. In recent years, the schedules have represented a larger pay increase from year to year. Dr. Anderson said this is the first time since he joined the district in 1999 that the salary schedule has decreased in cost.

335-6611 ext. 128

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