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School board denies restoring lost salary step for teachers

The Columbia Board of Education rejected a proposal from teachers to restore a frozen step on the teachers’ salary schedule.

The unanimous vote of the board came after months of negotiations between the Columbia Public School district and the Columbia Missouri National Educators Association earlier this year. CMNEA proposed the district restore the frozen step on the district’s salary schedule from the 2008-2009 school year. However, the district’s team ended the sessions in March, after meeting five times with the union.

District officials cited the rising cost of operation at CPS. Budget director Linda Quinley said the district would face an additional cost of more than $534,000 in salary for next year’s budget. Quinley and the school board discussed the district’s deficit spending earlier in the meeting, and district officials were concerned the addition of the salary step would compound the debt. The district faces the cost of staffing two new elementary schools and an early childhood education center the next two school years, and includes paying for the entirety of teachers’ health, dental and vision insurance.

Dana Clippard, the district’s chief negotiator, said teachers will still receive the raises for next year along the salary schedule.

Several teachers spoke at the Monday night meeting, asking the district to support the teachers. Union president Susan McClintic, a teacher at Alpha Hart Lewis Elementary, said restoring the salary step was not a raise for teachers, but the district giving the teachers what was promised to them.

An earlier proposal from the CMNEA included a five percent increase to the base pay for teachers. However, the union removed that provision because the district had not planned for such a salary increase in its five-year projection, McClintic said.

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