SALT LAKE CITY — Contract negotiations between the Salt Lake City School District and the Salt Lake Education Association are at an impasse after the teachers union rejected the district's third offer, the district and association announced Thursday.
The latest offer, according to the school district, included $50,100 starting pay for teachers, unlimited step increases of $900 per increment and at least a 6 percent increase from the previous year’s salary as the district transitions to a new salary schedule.
Starting pay for Salt Lake teachers under that proposal would be the highest along the Wasatch Front, with only Park City School District offering more, the district noted.
The Salt Lake Education Association announced the next phase of the negotiations is entering mediation.
The association is asking for mediation "because of the school district’s failure to provide adequate resources to ensure the recruitment and retention of quality teachers in Salt Lake City School District," its news release states.
The district school board offered a new single-lane salary schedule that would mean a loss of more than $125,000 in earnings over a 30-year career compared to the current step-based salary schedule, the press release states.
The association made a counteroffer to accept a 5 percent increase based on the 2018-19 salary schedule, but that was rejected by the school district, the association said.
The district also rejected proposals to cap class sizes and extend pay for parental leave. Teachers would receive a salary increase under the board’s proposal for the current year, but most would face decreased lifetime earnings because of the single-lane salary schedule, the press release states.
“We appreciate the efforts of the Salt Lake City School District in addressing the concerns of educators and seeking solutions to the ongoing crisis of teacher recruitment and retention,” said Salt Lake Education Association President James Tobler in the news release.
“Fortunately, both teachers and district officials are focused on doing what’s best for the students we all serve. We remain hopeful we can work with the district to reach a favorable settlement,” Tobler said.
Salt Lake City School District Superintendent Lexi Cunningham, in a statement, acknowledged "the crucial role our educators make every day in the lives of our students, in our district and in our schools. Throughout the salary negotiation process, we’ve done our best to show our teachers that we value their contributions and, as a district, we are always looking for ways to better reflect that in our salary negotiations.
"While we are continually restricted in what we can do due to limited funding, we remain hopeful that we will be able to reach a conclusion that is favorable to both (the association and school district)."