(The Center Square) – The Kent Education Association (KEA) has declined the latest contract proposal from the Kent School District (KSD) that would have seen average salaries surpass $100,000 in two years.
KEA established that they are striking to ensure: smaller classroom sizes and caseloads, improvements to services such as nursing and mental health, and higher wages to retain faculty members.
The district’s latest proposal came on Sept. 1 with a two-year contract that includes a 6.3% salary increase in the first year and a 4% increase in the second.
The latest proposal would result in a 10.6% two-year increase in salary, according to KSD.
Year one of the proposed contract would have also provided each union member a stipend of $1,500 in the 2022-2023 school year. In the 2023-2024 school year, union members would receive a $1,000 stipend.
The estimated average salary for members of KEA is $96,555 in proposed year one and $100,417 in year two, according to the district.
Last school year’s average annual teacher salary ranged from $77,424 to $84,791. However, 4-in-10 teachers in the district made over $100,000 annually, according to government data.
KSD notes that about 75% of KEA members have a master’s degree with zero years of experience or higher. The proposal would have teachers that fit that description making a base pay of $77,220 in the first year of the two-year contract. The salary would rise to $80,309 the following year.
The maximum base pay a KEA member could make in the proposed contract is $124,647 if the teacher has an MA with 90 credits and over 25 years of experience.
KSD said it also made “substantive offers” in class size cap and caseload improvements, along with substitute teacher pay, recruitment, training and additional paid days for counselors, nurses and behavior interventionists. But no further details were provided.
The teachers union has not agreed to the latest proposal, stating it is putting “A+ effort” into getting a deal done soon. KEA added that it wants negotiations to focus on improving the district for students, more so than teachers.
“We’re trying to figure out how to help the district understand that our proposals are about making schools better for students,” KEA said in a Facebook post. We’ve asked for more teachers, counselors, nurses and other staff in our schools – to make sure that no kid gets overlooked.”
KEA and KSD are continuing in-person negotiations today as the school year continues to be delayed.