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Every Taylor teacher, except for new teachers just starting their career, will receive some sort of raise following approval of a new one-year contract.

Taylor teachers are set to receive their most significant raise in recent memory, as the School Board gave final approval to a new one-year contract between the two parties last week.

Starting pay for a first-year teacher with no experience is now $38,000, an increase of $2,000 from the last contract. At the opposite end of the pay scale, the salary is $70,000. It had been $68,000.

Every teacher, except for new teachers just starting their career, will receive some sort of raise.

The new agreement brings Taylor closer to meeting the $40,000 minimum starting salary requirement. This requirement goes into effect during the 2022-23 school year.

Teachers, administration and the board will head back to the bargaining table next year to negotiate a new contract, with the intent of meeting the $40,000 requirement.

Kelly Hillman, president of the Taylor Education Association, said the contract is a step in the right direction.

“They were very gracious in agreeing to the new contract, and we are very appreciative,” she said.

Hillman said one of TEA’s goals this year was to address compression. Compression happens when there is only a marginal difference between wages of employees, even though two employees might have vastly different skills and seniority.

This happened at Taylor starting in 2011, when teachers went seven years without a raise. It resulted in salaries of longtime teachers not accurately reflecting their years of experience.

“We had teachers that had been there for 14 years that were still being paid at a six-year level,” Hillman said. “We felt that it was important to address that and reward them for all their years of experience.”

Hillman said that for some teachers impacted by compression, the new contract results in a several thousand dollar raise.

“This is one of the best raises Taylor has been able to make … in years,” said Superintendent Chris Smith.

The superintendent said negotiations were “the toughest” he’s been a part of and “not pleasant,” because of the new state requirements attached to teacher salaries.

One of those requirements is to use at least 45% of state funding on teacher salaries. The requirement can be daunting for smaller and rural school corporations with tight finances.

Smith said they are getting closer to the 45% benchmark.

Board President Dennis Marler said the financial position of the corporation, and decisions made in previous years, helped make the new contract possible.

“I think what we’re able to do today, in improving these increases, is a monumental step in the right direction,” he said.

Hillman said the salary boost should make Taylor a more attractive opportunity for new teachers, as well as keep teachers in the district.

Spencer Durham can be reached at 765-454-8598, by email at spencer.durham@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter at @Durham_KT.

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