Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017
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Toledo Board of Education OKs teachers contract

The Toledo Board of Education approved a three-year contract with its teachers that includes millions of dollars in pay raises aimed at making the district more competitive with higher-paying area school systems.

Board members unanimously approved the pact at meeting today.

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Second grade teacher Kim Downour, left, gives a hug to one of her students, Madison Mullins, at Oakdale Elementary School with other members of the Toledo Federation of Teachers in October. Toledo's Board of Education votes today on a 3-year contract with its teachers union.

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The roughly 2,600-member Toledo Federation of Teachers, which includes teachers, paraprofessionals, and substitutes, approved the terms last week.

The new contract includes a 5 percent, across-the-board raise over the first two years. The hikes start with a 3 percent increase in 2017-2018, which will cost Toledo Public Schools slightly more than $3 million that year. A 2 percent raise, costing the district about $2 million, will follow in 2018-2019.

In the third year of the contract, the district will further boost salaries by providing $4.8 million that year in additional pay based on salary “steps,” which correspond with years of experience.

In October of 2019, teachers also will receive a one-time payment of $250 and paraprofessionals will receive $175. The payment will cost TPS about $425,000.

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“While we moved to make our salaries more competitive, we are also taking steps that will directly benefit our students,” said board President Chris Varwig. 

The agreement lifts the salary of a newly hired teacher with a bachelor’s degree from the current pay rate of $37,447 a year to $39,739 a year by the end of the contract in 2020.

At the high end of the new salary scale, a teacher with a doctorate degree and 30 years of experience would make $84,545 by the contract’s end, up from the current wage of $75,041.

The district concentrated on boosting the wages of new teachers with up to five years of experience. Teachers currently don’t receive a raise until they reach the four-and-a-half step. The proposed salary plan will begin to provide annual raises in 2020 during each the teacher’s first five years. 

From the beginning of negotiations, district officials said they wanted the new pact to make TPS wages competitive with other area districts in an effort to recruit and retain teachers.

The union has a one-year contract that expires this summer. It included raises totaling 5 percent for the 2016-17 school year, as well as one-time cash payments. The raises and other adjustments cost the district $8.8 million this year.

After wrapping up negotiations for that contract, the district compared its 2016-2017 teacher salaries to wages paid by 11 area districts. The results showed TPS teachers make less than the average salary of those school systems, which include Ottawa Hills, Maumee, Rossford, Anthony Wayne, Sylvania, Perrysburg, Washington Local, Oregon, Springfield, Bowling Green, and Swanton.

Toledo teachers with a bachelor’s degree and zero to four years of experience make $37,447 a year, after a receiving a raise in January under the current contract.

That TPS salary is $1,739 less than the average wage surrounding districts pay teachers with one year experience and $7,017 less than the average area wage for teachers with four years of experience

Disparities continue when comparing Toledo teachers with a master’s degree to their area counterparts.

Toledo teachers with master’s degrees and four to 29 years of experience made at least $10,105 less this school year than the average salary of similarly qualified teachers in surrounding districts.

“The issue is there is a shortage of teachers locally, in the state of Ohio, throughout the country,” said deputy superintendent Brian Murphy. “We know that the shortage is just beginning. It’s going to get worse. That makes it that much more competitive with school districts.”

Ms. Varwig said the contract also includes benefits for students -—including agreements reached with TFT to expand recess and an effort to limit the number of school days that begin with a two-hour delay.

Contact Vanessa McCray at: vmccray@theblade.com or 419-724-6065, or on Twitter @vanmccray.

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