Pocatello-Chubbuck reaches labor agreement

POCATELLO — A week into the school year, the Pocatello-Chubbuck School District and local teacher’s union have finally reached a labor agreement.

The impasse revolved around teacher salaries and benefits and started May 23, after district officials proposed using added state funds to add 2.5 more instructional days onto the school calendar. Administrators said the days were lost to education funding cuts during the recession and need to be added back.

Members of the Pocatello-Chubbuck Education Association said the calendar should remain as-is, and that the extra funds should go toward raises for teachers instead.

“We felt like a pay raise with more days working isn’t really a pay raise,” said PCEA president Mary Anne McGory. “That’s how many of our members felt.”

Teachers also sought two more annual paid personal-leave days, on top of the five they already get, and relief from a few non-teaching requirements that included bus duty and other after-school responsibilities.

In the end, the PCEA accepted a two-day increase to the calendar, didn’t get the added personal-leave days or relief from non-teaching duties. But McGory said PCEA negotiators were happy with across-the-board, 3.6 percent raises for teachers who have advanced on the state’s career ladder salary law from last year, including the district’s veteran teachers.

“We feel like we do have a good salary schedule to present to our members, with particular attention toward those veteran teachers who often see little increase in pay,” McGory said.

Superintendent Doug Howell applauded the agreement.

“We are happy to finalize negotiations with our teachers and continue a great start to the school year,” said Howell.

A professional mediator had been brought in to help the parties reach a resolution Tuesday.

The PCEA will meet Wednesday to ratify the agreement.

Teachers had already signed contracts reflective of last year’s negotiations. If the Pocatello-Chubbuck school board approves the agreement Thursday, however, these contracts will be updated and reissued to reflect Tuesday’s negotiation.