Board cuts two work days from teacher contracts

Tuesday, April 15, 2008 | 2:44 p.m. CDT; updated 11:16 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — Starting next year, teachers in Columbia Public Schools will be paid for two fewer days.

On Monday night, the Columbia School Board decided to base next year’s teacher contracts on 187 work days. They also will stop using the teacher salary schedule, which promises raises based on how many years a teacher has been taught in the district. According to the contract, many teachers who would have been paid more after this year will not.

The district will continue to pay teachers more if they earn a higher degree.

The 187-work-day contract presumes that the board will cut an additional work day from the budget. Last month, the board cut one work day as part of $5.23 million in annual budget cuts.

The contract change would cause starting teacher salary to drop to $33,989, said Mary Laffey, assistant superintendent for human resources. The current starting teacher salary for the 189-work-day contract is $34,353.

Tuesday was the deadline for these contracts to go out to teachers in Columbia Public Schools.

Laffey told board members on Monday that it was imperative they vote on what those contracts would be based. “We have to have the minimal for teacher contracts by tomorrow by law,” she said.

The contracts sent out Tuesday to teachers are a starting point that the board can add to but not take away from in the coming months.

Board member Karla DeSpain said she wants to make sure the teachers know that this is only the minimum the district will offer.

During the coming week and a half, the board plans to think of new ways to cut more than $4 million from the budget. DeSpain said the board hopes that after decisions have been made about final cuts, it could make changes to the 187-day teacher contract.

The board has moved its April 24 work session from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. to finish discussing the budget cuts.

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