New Dayton teachers contract: How does it compare?

Dayton Public Schools’ new teacher contract features slightly above-average pay raises and a slightly shorter work day when compared to other local districts’ new contracts, but it does not include the retroactive step raises that some schools gave.

That’s according to a Dayton Daily News analysis of 15 teacher contracts that were approved this spring and summer by both large and small local school districts. Dayton’s agreement is for two years — joining Beavercreek, Milton-Union and Valley View — while the rest were for three years.

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Dayton’s base pay raises of 3 percent each year were the second highest, behind Centerville’s 3.5 percent, but almost all districts gave base raises in a narrow range between 2 and 3 percent. For example, Fairborn gave 3 percent the first year, 2.5 percent in Year 2, and 2 percent the last year.

There was much discussion in Dayton’s contract talks about the length of teachers’ work day and how it would be broken down. But according to a document given to union members, the “regular classroom day” for teachers remains at 7 hours and 15 minutes, including a 30-minute lunch and 45 minutes of planning time.

A review of 10 other districts showed nearly all of them had teacher work days of 7 hours, 30 minutes, with Piqua and Covington slightly higher. Planning time varies noticeably, sometimes even from school to school, from 40 minutes a day to 80 minutes.

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Step raises a major issue

Dayton’s teachers had pushed for DPS to offer retroactive pay for three years of “step raises” that were frozen from 2014-16. Superintendent Rhonda Corr said the district couldn’t afford it, and that retroactive pay was not included in the final deal.

Step raises are pay increases (usually of 2 to 5 percent) on top of any base pay raise, which are given for reaching a certain number of years of experience. In most districts, teachers get a step raise almost every year for the first 10-15 years, then sporadically after that.

At least four local school districts did offer retroactive pay in their new contracts. Piqua teachers who had two step raises frozen about five years ago “to allow the District to restore its financial health” will get those raises back this year and next year, according to their new contract. That’s in addition to 2 percent base raises.

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Troy teachers will see one retroactive step raise paid, in addition to base raises averaging 2.4 percent, and Valley View teachers will have two frozen steps paid retroactively in addition to base raises of 1 percent and 1.5 percent, according to their contracts.

Eaton schools faced a situation as complicated as Dayton’s and took a creative approach. Their teachers had seen step raises frozen for five long years. Their new contract retroactively pays all five years, according to Treasurer Rachel Tait. For some young teachers, that could be a sudden bump approaching $10,000. Teachers who weren’t eligible for steps will get flat annual raises of $500 or $1,000 per year.

But Tait explained the trade-off: the district reset its entire salary schedule slightly lower at the same time, and will keep base salaries at those lower levels for all three years of the contract. A starting teacher with a bachelor’s degree in Eaton made $39,131 last year, but a new starting teacher would now make $37,365 this year or either of the next two years.

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