North Platte teachers will get a 2-percent pay raise next year -- their biggest raise in three years, school officials agreed Tuesday night.
A starting teacher will recieve $33,700 a year -- an $800 increase over this year. A well-seasoned teacher could earn $71,107 next year.
The school board unamiously agreed to the raises, which were worked out during weeks of negotiations between school administrators and board members on one side and teachers on the other side, school board president Kathy Phares said.
To see the complete agreement, click HERE.
On top of their wages, teachers also receive sick pay, personal leave pay, time off for holidays and summers, money for health insurance and a nice retirement account.
10 days of paid leave per year for injury or illness.
3 days of personal leave.
$6,100 for a single health insurance policy with a $1,650 deductible.
or, $5,800 cash-in-lieu of insurance.
And, 18.5 percent of their salary goes toward their retirment. Teachers pay nearly 10 percent of their salary into their retirement account, and the school district nearly matches it (8.778 percent.)
The new agreement had to be reached by Feb. 8, according to new regulations by the Nebraska Council of Industrial Relations. In past years, salary negotiations often lasted all summer, Director of Human Resources Tami Eshleman said.
Reaching the agreement in February means that teachers' wages -- which are the district's largest expense -- are set in stone long before state aid income is even announced.
State aid will be announced June 1, Business Manager Stuart Simpson said. And, the Legislature is expected to change the existing state aid formula between now and then, so it is hard to say how much money the district will have next year.
Nevertheless, Simpson is comfortable with the raise.
He said state officials have officially told him North Platte will receive 5-10 percent more next year. The district got $10 million this year.
Simpson also noted that the district has nearly $10 million in cash reserves.
"We'll be okay for next year," Simpson said. "After that, we don't know yet."
Also, teachers can earn an additional $1,100 - $6,700 per year for overseeing extra-curricular activities such as detention, prom, music or athletics. That is a 2 percent increase, Director of Human Resources Tami Eshleman said.
Another big change dealt with health insurance to meet the requirements of the new federal health care program.
In the past, North Platte teachers received a flat $6,000 a year to use for health insurance of their choice. Now they will be offered a policy or, if they have health insurance from somewhere else, they will get a slightly smaller cash-in-lieu amount -- $5,800.
They no longer have the choice not to buy any health insurance and insure themselves, under Obamacare.