JCPS teachers argue pay raise isn't what it seems - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

JCPS teachers argue pay raise isn't what it seems

Several dozen teachers protested outside the VanHoose Education Center along with members of other unions. They chanted about wanting a “fair contract” from district administrators. (Source: WAVE 3 News) Several dozen teachers protested outside the VanHoose Education Center along with members of other unions. They chanted about wanting a “fair contract” from district administrators. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
JCPS spokesman Ben Jackey (Source: WAVE 3 News) JCPS spokesman Ben Jackey (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Brent McKim (Source: WAVE 3 News) Brent McKim (Source: WAVE 3 News)
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Jefferson County Public Schools teachers may be in line for a raise this year, but they said Monday the increase wasn't what it seemed.

All teachers in Kentucky, including those in Jefferson County, will receive at least a 1 percent pay increase this school year, something state lawmakers and the governor agreed to this spring.

Jefferson County teachers said increasing retirement and health costs will erode the pay increase and are asking for more money. But district administrators also face higher costs and said they can’t afford to pay teachers more.

“What we think is important for taxpayers to know is, while there has been increased funding on the state level, it doesn’t cover all the new mandates,” said Ben Jackey, a district spokesman, “most notably, the 1 percent increase for all employees.”

The district projects $12 million in additional revenue for the 2014-2015 school year, not enough to cover $21.1 million in additional state-mandated expenses, according to data provided by the district. The shortfall is greater the following year.

Several dozen teachers protested outside the VanHoose Education Center along with members of other unions. They chanted about wanting a “fair contract” from district administrators.

“The superintendent made one offer, and she’s refused to make another offer,” said Brent McKim, president of the Jefferson County Teachers Association. “She’s not really bargaining – she has a take-it-or-leave-it attitude.”

Jackey said he couldn’t comment about the negotiating process, other than to say talks are at an “impasse.”

A strike is unlikely. District administrators and the union must first go to mediation, then to arbitration, where a judge would consider both positions and make a decision.

The school board and teachers union members could override the judge’s decision, but it would take 80 percent of either body to do so, McKim said.

Several teachers told the JCPS Board of Education on Monday that the projected pay increase was unfair, with one even calling it “a slap in the face.”

“Why is it that every time we talk about money, we are the ones that get the brunt of it, we are the ones on the back burner?” said Latoya Malone, an elementary school teacher.

“I understand your biggest priority is community perception,” said Royce Whitman, another elementary school teacher. “Your No. 1 priority should be students, and the people who work one-on-one with them on a daily basis.”

Teachers said the 1 percent raise would be barely enough to cover a projected 0.5 percent hike in retirement contributions and the annual health benefits increase.

Jackey countered that 80 percent of the district’s teachers were in line for greater than a 1 percent raise because of a separate pay scale known as “step increases.”

The teachers who receive the 1 percent state-mandated raise would be longer-tenured teachers who had maximized their step increases, he said.

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