The Nazareth Area School Board unanimously rejected a salary plan for the district's teachers Monday night. The plan came from the district's teachers union.
The move does not affect Nazareth Area taxpayers, but it will temporarily affect district teachers' paychecks. Until an agreement is reached, teachers will be paid at last year's rate.
Nazareth Area teachers, starting Sept. 1, are in the first year of a that gives teachers an average 3.75 percent salary increase each year, according to district Superintendent Victor Lesky. Some teachers will receive raises of more than 3.75 percent; some will receive less.
The teachers contract calls for the Nazareth Area Education Association to construct the salary matrix to determine how large a raise teachers at each of the 16 steps on the salary scale will receive.
That matrix must be approved by the school board before it takes effect.
Monday night, it was not even close. The board voted 7-0 with two members absent to reject the proposed matrix. Lesky, on behalf of the administration, recommended the rejection.
The sticking point is the top and bottom steps of the salary scale. The board and administration feel the raises at the bottom are too low, while the raises at the top are too high. For example, a teacher at Step One of the bachelor's degree track would receive a $1 increase under the proposal, while a teacher at Step 16 would receive a raise of several thousand dollars, Lesky said.
“The philosophy spoken of between the administration and the teachers association was to close the gap between the steps of the pay scale,” he said. “The administration believes it was not done.”
Board member Jerry Treon agreed.
“I'd just like to comment that it doesn't make sense to freeze the people who are starting and give a couple of thousand dollar raises to those at the top,” Treon said.
That did not stop Lesky, board members and NAEA vice president Scott Stump from suggesting figures when Stump, speaking from the audience, joined the discussion of the union's proposal near the end of Monday's meeting after the board rejected it.
Stump told the board the disputed amount that scuttled the proposal was a mere $2,200. He and Lesky also sparred over the relative merits of comparing Nazareth Area salaries with those in the Lehigh Valley's more affluent districts, including those in Lehigh County, as opposed to limiting the salary comparison to other Northampton County districts.
Nazareth Area competes with the Southern Lehigh, Salisbury, Parkland, East Penn and Saucon Valley districts for teaching talent, Lesky said.
Stump declined to comment after the meeting.