Nampa, Coeur d’Alene contracts aren’t settled yet

(UPDATED, 9:14 a.m. Wednesday, with contract ratified in West Ada district.)

In two of the state’s largest school districts, labor negotiations will stretch beyond the June 30 deadline.

And some districts aren’t going to try to figure out how to implement Idaho’s new career ladder law until the fall. For now, these districts will just roll new state funding into the old salary schedule.

Tuesday is the final day of the 2014-15 contract year. But it’s not uncommon for labor talks to continue into the new contract year.

David Peterson
Nampa superintendent David Peterson

Nampa’s next negotiating session is scheduled for July 13. Administrators and the teachers’ union reached a tentative agreement on insurance issues Friday, district spokeswoman Allison Westfall said Monday morning. All that remains are salary issues.

The salary issues loop back to the career ladder law — Idaho’s five-year, $125 million plan to boost teacher pay, largely at the beginning and lower end of the pay scale. The district would like to move toward implementing the career ladder, Superintendent David Peterson said last week, while union officials would prefer to see the added state funding inserted into the district’s old pay schedule.

Talks in the Coeur d’Alene School District will also extend into the summer, the Coeur d’Alene Press reported last week.

Coeur d'Alene logoAt issue is what the district will do with the new $1.2 million it will receive for teacher salaries. The district has proposed putting $1.1 million into pay raises and $106,000 toward renewing the teachers’ insurance policy, the Press reported.

“All we ask for is the money that was budgeted for salaries by the state to go for salaries, not to pay benefits,” Lake City High School music teacher and union lead negotiator Tim Sandford said, according to the Press.

Negotiations in Idaho’s largest school district went down to the wire — but matters were resolved Tuesday.

Talks in the West Ada School District went to mediation. Trustees approved a 2015-16 master agreement last week, pending union approval, Eric Exline said. The Meridian Education Association ratified the agreement Tuesday.

The new career ladder law has reshaped — and, in some cases, complicated — the labor negotiations process. Districts have had to come up with a plan for their share of the $33.5 million in new salary money. Ultimately, it’s up to districts to decide how, or whether, to adopt the new salary schedule.

Some districts, such as Boise, have decided to use their career ladder money to beef up their existing salary schedule. Boise’s teacher salaries are among the highest in the state. Next fall, teacher salaries in Boise will top out at $66,208 — well above the $50,000 maximum the career ladder will fund in 2019-20.

Other districts, such as Middleton, are taking the first steps to put the career ladder on the books. Middleton decided early on to follow the career ladder model. The district and the local teachers’ union settled in mid-May.

Other districts decided to stick with their old salary schedule for one more year — and begin the discussion in earnest when the new school year begins. Blaine County, McCall-Donnelly and Kuna will put together local committees in September to begin breaking down career ladder issues.

More reading: Idaho’s teacher salary gaps are large, and they aren’t going away. Read our in-depth coverage, and see how your local school district stacks up.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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