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Ellsworth School Board approves pact with teachers

The Ellsworth School Board has approved a tentative salary agreement with the teachers.

The action was taken during a closed session of the board at a special meeting Tuesday, according to Superintendent Barry Cain. Cain said there are two major aspects to the pact: a base wage agreement and distribution of income.

A 2.07 base wage increase is part of the package, he said, explaining this can be negotiated up to the Consumer Price Index level, which was offered. Seven of the eight school districts in the Middle Border Conference are making offers at this level, he understood.

As for distribution of income within the teaching staff, an effort was made to reduce the widening gap between teachers at the high and low ends of the salary range, the superintendent said. The concern was the local district could experience increasing difficulty in being competitive with other schools when trying to attract new teachers. Thus, the latest local pact doesn’t adopt an equal across-the-board approach to the distribution aspect, as was the case with its immediate predecessor.

Resulting from the distribution effort this time, the flat amount of the increase the majority of Ellsworth’s teachers will receive this year is $825, Cain said. The remainder of the teachers here below the $35,000 yearly salary received the amount to get up to that value. There will be no additional cost to the local district, as this comes out of the negotiated overall package, with its total already determined.

The superintendent also reported a teaching salary range for the Ellsworth district in general, now that the board has approved the tentative agreement. The range for this year is $35,000 to $63,165.

At the top of the range are teachers who have been with the district for 15 years or more with a master’s degree and 12 additional credits, Cain said. One of the biggest changes from the past is the teachers no longer get steps (increases for each year of experience) or lanes (increases for educational credits), he emphasized.

“Teachers we hire today will need to be with us for many more years to get to the salaries of our top teachers who have been with us for some time,” he said.

Within the range of $35,000-$63,165, the average salary for local teachers is $48,594.99, he said. Forty-five percent (52.60) of the teachers here are making from $35,000 to $45,000 this year, 20 percent (23.60) of the teachers are making from $45,000 to $55,000 and 35 percent of the teachers are making $55,000 to $63,165.

Cain also mentioned the actual wages paid by the district for the teaching staff overall are lower this year than last. That’s primarily because there were a lot of retirements last year. He described the overall costs in this regard as “nearly flat.”

Bill Kirk

Bill Kirk was editor of the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth, from 1988 to February, 2015 and is now on staff as a reporter. He holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He previously worked in the media distribution department at the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus and is past editor of The Tri-County News in Osseo, Wisconsin.

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