Kent teacher salaries will see no increase or a smaller increase than expected in the next three years under a new contract approved Thursday by the Kent City Schools Board of Education.
Under the new contract, salaries will increase by 1.75 percent in the second year and again in the third year, but salaries will stay flat for the upcoming 2011-2012 school year.
The move came at the suggestion of the teachers' union, which offered up the reduction to help the district absorb cuts in state funding.
This past year, all employees in the district agreed to a wage freeze to help the district brace for the pending state budget cuts in educational funding, which were announced in March.
The contract takes effect July 1 and is effective through June 30, 2014. It replaces a contract that wasn't set to expire until Dec. 31, 2012.
Kent City Schools Superintendent Joseph Giancola said the Kent Education Association, which represents more than 300 teachers in the district, approached administrators with an interest in extending the schools' levy life and the district's financial stability.
"We verbally agreed to sit down and discuss ideas," Giancola said in an email "That is how the new contract came about."
Under the old contract, teachers were scheduled to get a 2.75 percent increase in base salary for the 2011-2012 school year and 2.75 percent increase in the 2012-2013 school year.
The district estimates the pay raise reductions will save Kent schools about $3.6 million during the next three years and stave off a deficit in 2014. And the move will likely delay the need for an operational levy until 2015.
Mike Walton, president of the KEA, said in March the teachers' union would consider whatever options were necessary to help keep the district's finances stable following the state budget cuts.
"We would be willing to look at whatever we needed to in the contract to be able to absorb those cuts," Walton said. "I think we’ve always been flexible with the district. On the other hand, I think the district has always been considerate of our association."