Board ends wage talks

First Posted: 12/8/2014

HARROD — The Allen East school board ended teacher wage negotiations Monday.

Though the two parties have not reached an agreement, Superintendent Mel Rentschler cited deference for both taxpayers and teachers as a reason for ending the negotiations.

The decision was released after a special board meeting Monday morning, during which board members declared an “ultimate impasse” after five months of negotiations.

All of the 64 district teachers will get a wage increase, though not in the amount they wanted.

“It seems as though we are being punished for doing a great job,” said Terri Spencer, Allen East Educational Association spokeswoman, in a statement. “Money is not really the issue. The issue is respect. Obviously, this Board has no respect for their teachers.”

A 1 percent wage increase for this year and the two following school years will begin Tuesday, Rentschler said, and teachers will be retroactively paid for the first half of the school year.

The 1 percent figure was offered as a “last, best offer” by the school board and declined by teachers, he said.

The board came to the figure by looking at what other Allen County districts have agreed upon. Rentschler said the county average is 0.9 percent.

“We’re not in the atmosphere where teachers are really getting 3 precent raises anymore,” he said. “It’s tough to give value to a teacher, because you can’t. It’s impossible.”

He said he hopes the 1 percent will keep the district from deficit spending, which is projected for next year.

“If we give them what they want, we would’ve headed into deficit spending,” he said.

Though the stated increase is 1 percent, Rentschler said all but two teachers, who did retire-rehire, will get more money than that because of step increases, educational attainment raises, years of experience raises, and a stipend that will go to teachers with certain years of experience.

“It’s time to move on. We’ve done all our negotiating,” Rentschler said. “We think our offer was fair at this point. It was fair to them and it was fair to the community.”

For the past three years, the teachers have had a zero percent increase to their base salary, though those eligible still received step increases, Rentschler said.

The board’s goal is to continue to keep the district from asking the residents of Allen East for new money, which it hasn’t done since 1994.

“The Board and administration want to commend the teachers for a smooth school year and for the job they continue to do for the children of Allen East,” according to a press release Rentschler sent.

Though disappointed, Spencer said the association does not wish to strike.

Rentschler said a strike is up to the association, but that the board does have a plan in case a strike happens.

“That’s out of our hands,” he said. “We never want anybody to go on strike.”

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