IBB recommendations to Roaring Fork Schools board include $50,000 base teacher salary | PostIndependent.com

IBB recommendations to Roaring Fork Schools board include $50,000 base teacher salary

A boost in the starting salary for certified teachers in the Roaring Fork School District to $50,000 and additional pay for extra duties comes before the district Board of Education on Wednesday.

The compensation proposal is part of a package of recommendations that came out of the recent Interest-Based Bargaining (IBB) process with certified teachers, as represented by the Roaring Fork Community Education Association (RFCEA).

The RFCEA is the local affiliate of the state teachers’ union, the Colorado Education Association.

That process wrapped up with a full-day, collaborative meeting on March 8. Recommendations came from various subcommittees regarding policies, compensation, teacher workload and health benefits, according to a district news release. 

“In the past two years, the average teacher salary at Roaring Fork Schools has increased by 23%,” Nathan Markham, chief financial officer for the district, said in the release. 

In that time, the beginning teacher salary has increased 22% — more than $8,800 — to what would now be a $50,000 starting salary for teachers, pending board approval.

“It’s been long overdue and is a milestone moment for the district, RFCEA, and the entire IBB team,” Markham said. 

“While we recognize and celebrate this, we also know we can’t rest. Inflation and the cost of living — particularly housing — has escalated. We must continue to find ways to pay teachers and staff a living wage.”

Under the proposal, the average increase for certified teaching staff would be 7.2% and would take effect with the April paycheck. 

The increase would also be retroactive to the beginning of the school year, the release states. Earlier this year, the district was also able to make one-time payments to teachers making less than $50,000 in order to bring their wages up to that amount. The new salary schedule would guarantee that annual amount beyond this year.

The IBB group also addressed compensation for teachers who take on extra duties, such as chaperoning overnight trips or temporarily taking on extra students in their classrooms when a fellow teacher is absent and a substitute isn’t immediately available.

That rate would be $50 per student. In addition, teachers who miss a planning or lunch period in order to cover a class are to be paid an extra $34 per hour, under the plan.

“The Interest-Based Bargaining process has been used for decades in our district to find solutions for issues that affect our staff, students and schools,” the RFCEA said in a statement. “It is a collaborative process involving teachers, building and district administration, and school board members. It leads to creative and beneficial solutions that have strength because of the collaborative nature used to determine them.”

A series of meetings starting last fall culminated with a mid-year check-in that took place in late February, and last week’s final meeting that encompassed more than 10 hours of presentations and discussion to arrive at the recommendations. 

The IBB presentation is scheduled near the beginning of Wednesday’s school board meeting, which is set to begin at 6:15 p.m. at the District Office in Carbondale. The meeting is also accessible via Zoom and on the district’s Youtube channel.

Other items addressed in the IBB proposal, according to the news release, include:

Teacher workload

Recommendation for two non-student contact days be added to the 2023-24 calendar, converting two current student days to days for teachers and staff to work on tasks they need to complete. The early release Wednesday professional development schedule would remain the same, but with more virtual options made available.

Policy and practice

Subcommittee recommendations include:

  • Changing the current leave policy from sick and personal days to general personal time off;
  • Honoring up to three years of experience of full-time guest teaching for guest teachers who become full-time teachers;
  • Making all whole-group IBB process meetings open to the public (that began this year at the mid-year check-in);
  • Taking steps to create a master agreement with RFCEA by the end of the 2023-24 school year; and
  • Updating district leave policies to be more inclusive.

Health benefits

A subcommittee made up of employees, local healthcare practitioners and national health experts met regularly to review options throughout the school year. In order to offer the same or better coverage for the same or lesser cost, the IBB committee recommends changing the district’s benefits broker and provider from Willis Tower Watson + CEBT to ThinkHealth + Alchemy, according to the release. 

IBB “is a time-consuming process, but because it is based on a common understanding by all, it typically yields more creative solutions that stand the test of time,” Superintendent Jesús Rodríguez said in the release. “At the IBB kick-off, I shared my hope that through this collaborative process, we would come up with creative solutions to improve the working conditions of our teachers, and I am grateful and proud to say that I believe we have accomplished that …”

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