Windham, NH 03087

WEA Teacher Contract Salaries Explained

The WTC heard from many Windham residents who are confused about how to vote on the Windham School District’s Teachers Contract that will be on the ballot this Tuesday (Warrant Article #3). Thanks to the in-depth research by many volunteer members of the WTC, we have compiled additional information below to hopefully provide a better explanation of the contract.

Most of you received the School District’s Voters Guide via snail mail last week. The School District’s Voters Guide includes the following misleading excerpt about Article #3:

The agreement calls for a step increase with no COLA for steps 1-14. A COLA of 2% for step 15, A change in each step up to 14 is a 3.68% increase.”

Separately, many Windham residents received an email from a former school board member that provides the following misleading statement:

45% of teachers will get a 2% raise,

55% of teachers will get a 3.68% raise”

Those numbers are correct, but both infer that all teachers will receive a salary increase that was negotiated as part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement — and that a larger number of teachers will receive a higher raise of 3.68%. This is disingenuous. If the contract is approved, only the top step on the Salary Schedule will receive a salary raise.

Bear with us as we explain.  We reviewed and compared the 2018 Proposed WEA Contract (www.tinyurl.com/WEA-CBA-2018) to the following Collective Bargaining Contracts for the Windham School District Instructional Assistants and Town Municipal services (Police, Firefighters and Municipal Support Staff). All of these contracts listed below can be found at www.tinyurl.com/WTC-CurrentCBAs.

  • Windham School Assistants (Instructional Assistants) 2017-2020
  • Windham Police 2017-2020
  • Windham Firefighters 2017-2020
  • Windham Support Staff (Town)

Each of the current Instructional Assistant and municipal contracts apply an equal salary increase to every step covered by the contract. Then, every employe receives the salary that is defined for the step that they are eligible forbased on their education and experience… thereby receiving their portion of the salary increase that was negotiated.

For employees at the top step, they receive the salary increase that was negotiated with the contract.

For those eligible to move up a step in the salary schedule, they receive the step raise AND the salary increase that was negotiated.

This is how our teachers used to receive their collective bargaining raises as well, prior to March, 2014.

But unfortunately that year, the District, School Board and Teacher negotiators set a bad precedent, and have continued to do so over the past three contracts, as can be seen with the lion’s share of the salary increases for those three contracts being distributed to the top step only.  If the proposed 2 yr. contract is approved by voters, the top step teachers will have received a 14.92% compounded salary increase over the past three contracts covering 6 yrs, compared to a 2.12% compounded salary increase for the lower steps over that same timeframe. (Keep in mind we are differentiating “salary increases” from “step raises” – as is done with the IA and municipal employees contracts and other schools districts as well)

To emphasize the importance of that statement, if the trend continued for the top step to receive a 2% salary increase while the lower steps received 0%, it wouldn’t be long before the top step teachers at step 15 would be making 50% more than their peers just one step below.  It’s not only unsustainable, it puts the district in jeopardy of losing younger, excellent teachers who could be paid higher salaries in other competitive districts.

We believe all of our teachers deserve to receive identical salary increases – in the same manner as all of our other school district and municipal employees (and other school districts).

The WEA union leadership rushed a vote within hours of accepting the proposal. It is our understanding that teachers had very little time to comprehend and understand the ramifications.

We all support our teachers, but the proposed contract perpetuates an unfair situation that puts voters “between a rock and hard place”.

If the contract is approved, a majority of teachers will receive a step raise, but no salary increase — thereby falling further behind to inflation… and it continues to be more and more difficult & expensive to properly adjust the lower portion of the salary schedule upwards to where they should be.  In addition, the lower salaries at those lower steps will further reduce the district’s ability to attract good talent — which the district will need to do in the near future as 45% of our teaching staff retires.

On the other hand, if the contract is rejected by voters, teachers will remain on their current steps. Therefore, no teachers will receive a salary increase nor a step raise for one year. However, all of that “lost” money during the upcoming year for the lower steps  due to not receiving a step raise, could be recouped in the following year with a minimal salary increase of 1.1% for all of the steps – and a two step jump in the first year of the contract.

The benefits of the second option are multiple. The contract could be fairly negotiated for all teachers, and the salaries for those teachers at the lower steps would be considerably higher. Therefore, future salary increases would yield even higher salaries for those at the lower steps and continue to keep the Windham School District competitive.

It comes down to instant gratification for the teachers at a significantly reduced salary (if the contract is approved) vs. permanent long term gains if the contract is rejected and fairly negotiated next year.

The first option reduces further the district’s ability to attract and retain good talent. The second option delays the salary increases the teachers deserve, but will help Windham remain competitive in attracting excellent talent at all levels of experience into the future as our senior teachers retire.

To keep voters more informed, please feel free to share this with your friends.

Sincerely,

WTC Executive Board