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Teachers may get minimum salary jump

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By Nathan L. McBroom

It doesn't look like local teachers will be getting much of a raise next year.

Due to budgetary restrictions, the Shelby County Board of Education is considering giving local teachers only the state mandated 1 percent salary increase for next year.

Greg Murphy, financial coordinator for the district, said with a decrease in state and local revenues, the district - like the rest of the nation - has had to make tough financial decisions. Murphy said the funding that the state has allocated to the district for teachers next year is roughly just enough to cover the required salary increases for all employees.

"As much as we would have liked to have done more for the teachers, we have to work with what he have," he said.

He said he is glad the district did not have to scale back any teaching positions, as some districts have had to do.

Murphy said it is important to keep in mind that the 1 percent increase that teachers will receive next year is in addition to the annual step increase they receive with each additional year of service. He said when the 1 percent increase is factored into the step increase, local teachers could see an increase of 2 to 2.5 percent.

However, according to U.S. Social Security Office estimates, the cost of living has increased by 2.3 percent annually in recent years. Official numbers for the first quarter of this year could not be obtained but it is likely that the increased cost of gas and food has lead to an added increase in the cost of living. Thus local teachers' salaries will likely increase right at, if not behind, the cost of living.

For the past 10 years, the General Assembly has given school districts mandates concerning the required salary increases for teachers. For seven of the past 10 years, Shelby County has increased local teachers salaries by more than the mandated rate.

Murphy said the district has increased teachers' wages over the years. In the 90s, local teachers were ranked 94th in the state for teachers' salaries. Shelby County currently ranks between 25th to 27th in the state for teachers' salaries.

The current starting salary for new teachers in Shelby County is $35,600. The average salary for a local teacher is $52,100.

Board members will discuss and possibly approve teachers' salary increase at this Thursday night's board meeting. Although the board may take action on the salary increase this Thursday, it will likely hear a plea from teachers for more money in coming weeks.

James Ray Morgan, president of the Shelby County Education Association, said the local teachers organization is currently working with Kentucky Education Association to come up with "appropriate recommendations" for the teachers' salary increase. However, Morgan said the SCEA will not be ready to present their recommendation by this Thursday night's meeting. He said the SCEA will make its salary recommendation at the May 22 board meeting.

Also at the meeting the board will hear a first reading of a revision to Shelby County Public Schools' graduation requirements policy.

The meeting will be held at West Middle School at 7 p.m.