The Logan Education Association and Logan City School District have reached an impasse in negotiations over steps and teacher salaries. Both board members and teachers expressed their views during a board of education meeting Tuesday. Since the district has been faced with significant budget cuts, negotiations have taken place in order to find a way to balance the budget. Superintendent Marshal Garrett said these budget decisions are the “hardest thing” he has had to do in his 32 years in education. The board of education has worked with many groups to decide how to handle budget cuts without destroying programs and while harming the district’s people as little as possible. While interacting with educators, Garrett said he heard many pleas: to keep class sizes low, maintain health insurance benefits and honor steps and lanes. Steps are pay increases based on how long an employee has been with the district and lanes are pay increases based on a teacher’s increased level of degree earned. The district has been able to honor the first two pleas to a certain degree, Garrett said. However, steps are on the chopping block. David Bates, English and arts teacher at Logan High School, warned the board that “there is a wave of animosity that is building, that there is an avalanche that is building among teachers and amongst support staff.” While Bates only hears the “mumblings and the groanings” at Logan High School, he said he is sure other schools are having similar experiences. Bates also warned that by not honoring steps, the board is sending the message that the teachers are not valued. Bates said 30 districts in Utah have used state approved funding for their teachers, leaving only four districts who have not done the same. The Logan City School District is one of those four. Garrett said the state money is a one-time fund, and the board doesn’t want to put the district “up against a precipice” by creating long-term obligations with one-time funds. One other audience member spoke during Tuesday’s meeting, saying while she appreciated negotiations that have already taken place, she said she feels let down by lack of steps and lanes. If the board is not able to give steps this year, Garrett said they would do everything they could to make up for missed steps as quickly as possible. “Every penny we get will go into the pockets of our employees,” he said. In the meantime, Garrett said he encourages teachers, parents and the community alike to help the Legislature realize they have cut education’s budget too far. The board was able to approve two agreements Tuesday night. The first negotiated agreement, with the Logan Classified Employees Association, states members will receive no cost of living, no steps, 100 percent of premiums paid for health insurance, language changes for working conditions and reduction in force policy and the development of a sick leave bank. The second negotiated agreement, with the Logan City School District Administrator Association, states members will receive 100 percent of premiums paid for health insure, honoring of lanes, honoring of longevity differential, no steps, no cost of living and some language changes in transfer policy and hiring policy. These agreements will be renegotiated if additional funding becomes available, said Stacey Hunter, executive assistant to the superintendent. – firstname.lastname@example.org
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