Several teachers spoke up in defense of funding salary steps at last Tuesday’s Logan City School District Board of Education meeting.The comments came in response to an e-mail sent by the board to teachers telling them of a 4 percent stipend that could come their way this holiday season. The stipend will be discussed and possibly approved at a budget hearing tonight.The 4 percent stipend, if approved, will be given to all district employees in an effort to “to keep them financially whole, as far as it is possible,” said board President Fred Duersch.”We honestly are doing our utmost to keep the great programs we’ve developed over time that we know make a difference for our children,” Duersch said.Duersch said the proposed stipend amount is larger than what teachers would receive with steps – scheduled increases in salary based on how long an employee has been with the district. Duersch explained that using one-time government money to fund ongoing expenses, such as steps, is something the board avoids at all costs. A federal mediator will enter negotiations in early December between the district’s administration and the Logan Education Association, who are currently at an impasse regarding steps. Joan Keepers, who teaches first grade at Woodruff Elementary, said approving the 4 percent stipend before negotiations on steps take place is “almost underhanded.” She asked the board to consider putting off the stipend until after negotiations. “We feel like you’re stepping ahead when you need to step back on that process. I just ask you to do the right thing,” Keepers said. Rayann Hansen, president of the LEA, said steps have been funded over the past 40 years, and that she’d like to see that funding continue this year. “It hurts my heart seeing teachers enrolling their kids in free or reduced lunch,” she said. Superintendent Marshall Garrett said it is a difficult year financially, and the 4 percent stipend is a way to “provide some financial relief to our staff.”The 4 percent stipend is scheduled to be discussed at a budget hearing at 4:30 tonight, Nov. 23, at the Logan City School District building. – firstname.lastname@example.org
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