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Negotiators agree to 5.25 percent raise for Sullivan teachers

April 25th, 2007 9:27 pm by CHRISTAN M. THOMAS



BLOUNTVILLE - Sullivan County teachers could see an additional 5.25 percent on their paychecks during the 2007-2008 school year.


Negotiators for the Sullivan County Education Association and Sullivan County Board of Education came to an agreement on a teacher salary increase this week after negotiations stalled last week.


BOE and SCEA representatives came to an impasse during the previous session on the topic of salary, with the SCEA vying for a 7 percent increase and BOE representatives willing to go no higher than 5 percent. SCEA negotiators came back to Wednesday's session with the true 5.25 percent option.


In the end, both sides agreed to the compromise and acknowledged that the negotiations process was not personal.


"It's not personal," said SCEA chief negotiator Ruth Williams. "We're speaking for our membership, and we're speaking as bargaining units."


The SCEA had asked for a 4 percent to 7 percent raise for teachers this year. According to the SCEA, Sullivan County currently ranks 86th in Tennessee counties for salaries of teachers with bachelor's degrees.


In other business, negotiators talked at length about the possibility of putting "exclusivity" language in the contract, which would prevent unauthorized groups from placing communications in teachers' mailboxes, putting up bulletin boards, etc. BOE negotiators asked if that type of language would be "legal" and "fair." The SCEA contended that groups are currently passing out anonymous communications.


"Looks like we need to perhaps think about the whole big picture then and how to deal with it," said board attorney Pat Hull. "There probably needs to be some accountability and some uniformity. … But my thought is, we also don't want to step on people's toes."


"We need to make it plain to everybody what's to be on school communications that are given out," said BOE chief negotiator and Assistant Director of Schools Jack Barnes. "If it doesn't have the name of the organization or the name of the contact, it doesn't need to go out, and that applies to everything."


No decision on the language was made.


Negotiations will continue May 9 at 12:30 p.m. in Room 212 of the system's Central Office.


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