Before Tiverton’s history-making FTR, the school department announced there would only be two options if voters chose the smaller budget: close an elementary school or cancel all extracurricular activities, including athletics and some music.
How big was the possible gap? At its last meeting before the FTR, Supt. William Rearick told the School Committee, “when all is said and done, about $340,000 to $350,000,” after using up reserves.
Don’t miss this, people of Tiverton: The committee is now preparing to approve an agreement with the teachers’ union that would add much more than that to the next two budgets!
Approval is scheduled for [tonight], Tuesday, Aug. 14, 7:00 p.m. at the High School library. Details of the plan only became available Friday, and the director of finance is on vacation, but an estimate from prior years suggests that this deal will add over $440,000 to the next budget and almost $800,000 to the next one.
In total, taxpayers will spend about $1.3 million more for teacher compensation than if the spending had remained constant. And the $1.3 million compensation increase will be far higher when healthcare is included.
Pay increases in the second two years of the contract will be a mix of raises, one-time stipends, and extra money for two professional development days, paid at $70/hour. Teachers’ pay will go up 4.6 percent to 21.8 percent depending on years worked. Average actual increases will be 1.6% the first year, 4.3 percent the second year, and 2.9 percent the third year. Eighty percent of teachers at step 10 will see their base salaries pass $70,000.
This doesn’t include longevity payments up to $600 dollars for step 10 teachers or bonuses for advanced degrees.
As a candidate for Tiverton school committee, I am all for a motivated, well-compensated teaching staff. But there’s no way to guarantee that voters will accept these increases with this hurting economy, especially with so much work to be done on the buildings and grounds.
The first year of the agreement is already budgeted and should be approved, but things could change in November, in the town, state and nation. A committee that’s really concerned about the education of our children shouldn’t take risks just to lock in $1-2 million in increased teacher compensation a few months before the election, especially after just suing the town for more money and then pushing for even more money at the FTR, just three months ago.
Ruth Hollenbach is a candidate for Tiverton Town Council.