On Monday, October 19, Milford School District Board of Education approved a two percent raise retroactive to July 1, the start of the school district fiscal year. Employees will see the retroactive pay in their checks in one lump sum at the end of November.
The decision to provide raises for district staff occurred after much discussion on how much should be given in the current year. Sara Croce, Chief Financial Officer, provided the board with several scenarios regarding employee raises and totals for what each scenario would cost the district. Those figures were not presented to the public during the meeting, but were only offered to the board.
“I am most comfortable with providing a four percent overall raise over the next few years,” Ms. Croce said. “We have already completed negotiations with the MEA for this year and those negotiations included an agreement that there would be no raises for the current school year. Therefore, we can be flexible with what we can give for this year, but we must keep in mind that we will begin negotiations again in the spring. If we give them two percent now, we have an additional two percent to use as a bargaining tool during the next round of negotiations.”
Yvette Dennehy, the newest member of the school board, said that it was very important that a raise be given to staff as that was one of the reasons for the referendum that passed in early October. She felt that the amount given in the current school year should be given in good faith and that negotiations for next year should not come into play.
“We promised them that they would get a raise if this referendum passed,” Ms. Dennehy said. “Personally, I think we should give them a three percent raise. We made a promise that this would be done separate from negotiations and I don’t think it is fair now to use it as a bargaining tool.”
Board member Pat Emory said that giving a three percent raise would allow the district to only provide a one percent raise the following year if they were going to continue to be conservative with the budget. Ms. Croce explained that because negotiations included the agreement that there would not be a raise in the current year, the district was considering raising salaries as a good faith effort.
Board member Hunter Emory said that he did not feel comfortable discussing union negotiations in the public setting and that he felt the board should continue the discussion in Executive Session. Although the board is required to vote on changes to local salaries, they are not required to disclose negotiations between the union and the district in the public forum. The board adjourned to Executive Session before returning to vote on the salary increase. The vote was unanimous to raise the local salary supplement by two percent.
“The district, along with the MEA, is hopeful that the passage of the referendum will help with retaining teachers, which will provide more stability and comfort for our students,” said Kerry Stahl, President of the MEA. “We are hopeful that we will be able to offer more athletic opportunities and bring back winter track, swimming as well as middle school track and cheerleading. We also hope to be able to offer more academic opportunities like after school tutoring, math league, Odyssey of the Mind, car club and summer school as well as safer environments for our students by maintaining our School Resource Officers.”