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Margaretta teachers’ salary freeze ends

Alissa Widman Neese • Sep 3, 2013 at 2:10 PM

Margaretta Schools teachers will see pay increases this fall for the first time in four years.

Administrators and teachers union finalized their latest contract this month, a three-year agreement board members approved Thursday morning at a special meeting.

The new contract’s major changes include:

• Increasing teacher base salaries by 1.5 percent each year for the next three years.

• Eliminating pay freezes for teacher base salaries and salary steps.

• Resuming a salary step schedule, or incremental pay increases determined by a teacher’s years of service and education credentials.

• Increasing health insurance deductibles from $500 to $750.

“Negotiations are always give and take, but I really think this package was a fair, team-oriented effort,” teachers union president John Zang said. “We helped our district become financially sound again and at the same time didn’t diminish the success of our students at all. It’s nice to get a small recognition of those efforts.”

Teachers first volunteered to freeze their salaries in the 2009-10 school year as Margaretta Schools pursued an emergency operating levy to stabilize its budget, treasurer Jude Hammond said.

Margaretta Schools is now projecting a surplus each year in its most recent five-year forecast, making the newly approved contract sustainable, Hammond said. It will likely cost the district about $50,000 more per year. Its annual budget is about $13 million.

The wage increases come just a week after the Ohio Department of Education released revamped district report cards listing Margaretta Schools as one of the highest-achieving schools locally, landing six As and three Bs.

“We’re extremely proud of our teachers and the work they’ve done, and we want them to feel like they’re appreciated,” superintendent Ed Kurt said. “They worked with us at a time we struggled to get a levy passed. Now we’re in a situation where we can give them a raise and still be responsible to the taxpayers of our district.”

Margaretta Schools employs about 75 teachers.

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