Contract negotiations between the Salt Lake Teachers Association and the city school district are deadlocked and the parties will not meet again until August.
Pay is the major sticking point. The school district has offered teachers a 3.5 percent pay raise, but teachers want at least 4 percent. Teachers in Granite, Davis, Jordan and Murray school districts have settled on contracts that provide pay raises of 4 percent or greater."I think it's a slap in the face to the teachers of the district. It sends the message our district does not value them as much as the other districts do," said SLTA President Elaine Tzourtzouklis.
J. Dale Manning, assistant superintendent of personnel and head of the district's negotiation team, would not comment on the specifics of the contract talks.
"We're still negotiating. We've taken a recess and we'll be getting together in August," he said.
Tzourtzouklis said district negotiators say they are offering the 3.5 percent increase because Salt Lake teachers are among the best paid in the state.
Except for property tax-rich Park City, Salt Lake district pays more to start but other districts equal or surpass the salary schedules over the span of a career, she said.
A 1995-96 salary ranking prepared by the Utah Education Association indicates Salt Lake City has the second highest starting wage statewide for teachers with a bachelor's degree. After 20 years, the Salt Lake salary for a teacher with a bachelor's degree ranks 10th.
By contrast, negotiations in surrounding districts have wrapped up quickly.
Last week, Granite teachers reached a tentative contract settlement with the school district, which includes a 4.45 percent pay increase.
Teachers in the Jordan and Davis school districts have already settled on contracts, with the Jordan District offering a 4.404 percent increase and Davis settling on 4.4 percent.
Murray teachers will receive a 4 percent raise and the school district will increase its contribution to teachers' tax-deferred retirement fund from 2 percent to 2.5 percent.
"Many other districts have better benefits than ours. Murray District's contribution to their 401K is 2.5 percent, ours is 1.5 (percent). They have unlimited leave, we get 10 sick days and one personal day," Tzourt-zouklis said.
Despite the summer layoff, Tzourtzouklis said she is optimistic the parties can settle a contract before school starts Aug. 27. "We're still in hopes we can work something out," she said.
School district salaries
BEGINNING AND ENDING SALARIES FOR TOP 10 DISTRICTS
DISTRICT MINIMUM SALARY
1. Park City $23,396
2. Salt Lake City 23,183
3. Murray 22,671
4. Iron 21,671
5. Emery 21,510
6. Millard 21,167
7. Morgan 21,049
8. Daggett 21,023
9. South Summit 21,000
10. Jordan 20,996
STATE AVERAGE $20,509
Source: Utah Education Association
DISTRICT MAXIMUM SALARY
1. Millard $35,922
2. Nebo 34,501
3. Tintic 34,008
4. San Juan 33,812
5. Cache 33,630
6. USD&B* 33,588
7. Emery 33,560
8. Ogden 33,326
9. Davis 33,019
10. Salt Lake City 32,959
STATE AVERAGE $30,873
*Utah School for the Deaf and Blind