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New Berlin School District offers lump-sum wage hikes

Dec. 3, 2012

New Berlin - Many New Berlin School District employees will receive a one-time payment for the last two years outside of the collective bargaining process.

The New Berlin School Board last week approved a 1.64 percent payment for the 2011-12 school year and a 1.86 percent payment for the current 2012-13 school year.

Those who will receive the payment are current teachers, specialists, librarians, psychologists, counselors, therapists and special education paraprofessionals who worked for the district before this year. Payments are expected early in 2013.

Board member Art Marquardt called the one-time payment an important way station as the district works on a full compensation redesign. The compensation plan will be designed to recruit, retain and reward employees, and will form the basis of future compensation decisions.

While that redesign is in progress, the board wants to show the staff how it values and appreciates employees, board President David Maxey said.

The staff works hard and the board wants to recognize that, said board member Tom David, who also noted that it will help them keep up with the cost of living.

But that help would only be temporary. The lump sum doesn't raise the teachers' base pay the way a raise would. To truly keep them up with inflation, the second year's increase would be based on a 1.64 percent higher base pay. As it is, the 2012-13 payment is based on a pre-inflation base pay for 2011-12.

Although grateful for the additional money, teachers are somewhat disappointed that the cash will come in a lump sum, instead of actual raises, Steven Cupery, director of the Lakewood UniServ Council representing the teachers, said Monday.

In fact, teachers were led to believe that the district intended to raise their 2011-12 pay to keep up with inflation, he said.

Last November, they received a letter from School Board President David Maxey that referred to the new rules. In the letter, Maxey said "it is the board's intent to give teachers the maximum allowable, as defined by law," which he specifically suggested dealt with base wage adjustments.

Similarly, James Korom, attorney representing the schools in teacher contract negotiations, emailed Cupery on Sept. 10. The email, in part, referred to "the board's prior commitment to give employees a 1.64 percent increase for last year."

"Obviously, they didn't keep that promise," Cupery said.

Maxey could not be immediately reached for comment.

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