Wage cuts imposed on Riverview teachers

By GABRIEL GOODWIN
Sunday Times Newspapers

RIVERVIEW — The Riverview Board of Education voted unanimously to impose a new salary structure for its teacher that includes wage cuts up to 5.5 percent.

The new contract affects the wages of all 136 teachers in the district for the 2013-14 school year. Teachers with 11 to 20 years of experience will see the biggest cut with a 5.5 percent reduction in pay, while teachers with less than 10 years of experience will receive a 2.5 percent cut in wages and a 4.5 percent cut to the wages for teachers with more than 20 of experience.

Teachers will now be required to contribute 20 percent of their health benefits. The imposed contract will expire Aug. 31, 2014.

Supt. Russell Pickell said the goal of the board was to bring its funds to a level 15 percent above its expenditures. He said that while the imposed contract involves cuts to wages, there is a provision that allows any revenue above a $350,000 baseline to be distributed on a prorated basis in the future.

The Board of Education and the Riverview Education Association reached a tentative agreement in March on all open issues, he said, but could not settle the dispute over the salary structure and they had been at impasse since. The contract was implemented because the parties could not agree on terms for a new collective bargaining agreement.

“Both sides bargained in good faith for over two years,” Pickell said. “Each side felt they were representing their people to the best of their abilities. This agreement reflects the fiscal responsibility necessary to keep our district strong and healthy.”

School Board Trustee Amy Wright said both sides reached an agreement in March, but the REA did not ratify the agreement and neither side could agree on new terms.

“No one wins in this situation,” Wright said. “But, this is the time to get back together and concentrate on what is important to all of us: the education of our children.”

Board President Shawn Filkins said the board has been operating efficiently over the last five years and an agreement needed to be reached to ensure their responsibility to their students and the budget.

“We all have a great deal of respect for our teachers and the work they do,” Filkins said. “Imposing this contract is not something we want to do, it is something we have to do to provide financial stability to our district and provide for our children’s future.”

(Gabriel Goodwin can be reached at ggoodwin@bewickpublications.com.)

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