Valley News Correspondent
Published: 1/10/2023 12:47:13 PM
Modified: 1/10/2023 12:44:06 PM
CLAREMONT — The School Board unanimously approved a new two-year contract for Claremont teachers that includes a special incentive for newer teachers to remain with the district.
SAU 6 Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Richard Seaman and School Board Vice Chairwoman Heather Whitney, a member of the district’s negotiating team, said the overarching goal of the district in negotiations was to make salaries more competitive with neighboring districts for newer teachers.
Seaman presented data that showed more than 50% of the teachers who left the district did so in the first three years after getting trained. He said some leave for reasons other than pay, but most move to districts where the salary is higher for the same level of experience and education.
“They get trained, get comfortable with the students and we lose them,” Seaman said. “The intent of the negotiations was to try to address that occurrence.”
“Our overwhelming drive was to retain young teachers,” added Whitney.
The new contract includes a step increase for an additional year of service of $1,250 for teachers with 15 years or fewer in the district in each contract year, except for after year three when teachers would receive a step increase of $3,000.
“We are failing to keep the talent we created,” Whitney said, explaining the increase in the step after the third year is aimed at getting more teachers to remain. “We believe it is in the best interest of the students to give a salary increase at this critical time.”
The contract includes a 3.25% pay increase in the first year and 3.75% in the second, in addition to annual step increases.
The contract between the district and the Sugar River Education Association runs from July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2025. The lowest starting salary will be just over $42,000 in the first year for someone with a degree but no teaching experience; that increases to $43,629 in the second year.
“Our strategy was to bring up starting salaries,” Seaman said.
Under the contract, teachers with between 15 and 17 years of experience will receive a $1,350 step increase, and teachers with 18 years or more receive longevity pay between $2,300 and $3,000 depending on their length of service.
The SREA will begin paying 5% of one of the health insurance plans, which is an increase of 2%.
Seaman said the cost of the higher salary and benefits in the first year is about $1 million, and in the second year, 2024-25, it will be $572,000.
The contract will be included in the proposed budget, which will be presented to the School Board Wednesday. If the budget is defeated and the default budget implemented, there would not be a contract, Seaman said.
Patrick O’Grady can be reached at [email protected].