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APS, teachers union agree to salary increases

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Copyright © 2014 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Public Schools announced a tentative agreement with its teachers union Wednesday to raise teacher salaries, the same day the school board approved the district’s 2014-15 budget.

APS administration and the Albuquerque Teachers Federation agreed to raise salaries for teachers and support personnel by 3 percent next year, according to a district press release.

Contract negotiations had recently broken down, but both sides were able to agree on salary increases for next year. Other issues remain unsolved.

“Both sides agreed that teachers and other educators needed higher salaries to begin in August…,” APS spokeswoman Johanna King wrote in the release.

Meanwhile, the APS school board voted unanimously Wednesday night on a $690 million operational budget that included $15 million to cover the 3 percent salary increase.

State lawmakers voted to increase the salaries of state workers and teachers by 3 percent this year, and also to increase the minimum salary for the lowest of the three teacher tiers by $2,000. That bill was signed into law by Gov. Susana Martinez. The governor had pushed to raise pay for starting teachers by $3,000, but the final budget bill did not include that much.

Martinez line-item vetoed a move that would have increased minimum salaries for second- and third-tier teachers by $2,000 across the state, saying the budget passed by the Legislature was too large.

The APS administration found money in the district budget to increase the minimum salary for all three teacher tiers in APS by $2,000 – raising them to $32,000, $42,000 and $52,000.

Teachers who already make the new minimum salary or greater will receive 3 percent raises. Those who are below the new minimums will get larger percentage raises if necessary to bring them up to the new minimums.

For example, a second-tier teacher now making $40,000 will get a $2,000 raise to the new minimum of $42,000, which is a 5 percent increase.

The district’s proposed budget includes $1.2 million to cover the cost of increasing the minimum salaries.

Negotiations between the union and APS administration had broken down after ATF President Ellen Bernstein said Superintendent Winston Brooks and Don Moya, chief financial officer, broke negotiation rules by talking about wage increases at public forums.

Brooks disagreed and called an impasse to the negotiations.

The sides will seek the assistance of a federal mediator to help with unresolved issues, the district release said.

Class sizes next year are expected to decrease by 2 percent under the budget, which includes money to add 80 teachers. The number of actual teacher positions added will depend on enrollment.

Moya said APS received $634 million in state funding for next school year, a $22.1 million increase from the current budget. Most of the increased funding went to pay for the salary increases, he said.

The proposed budget also calls for tapping $5 million of the district’s cash reserves, Moya said. He said he would not advocate dipping into the reserves every year.

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