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Prospect of one month with no pay for teachers a scary one; District works to resolve issue

by Scott Murphy, Staff Writer

School teachers and Douglas County school officials are trying to solve a pay problem caused by the district’s switch from its multi-track calendar system.

Teachers fear the district’s move to a new calendar could leave them without paychecks for a month.

On Dec. 11, trustees adopted a new calendar that moves the district’s six Valley elementary schools to a new calendar featuring an eight-week summer break, a three-week Christmas holiday and two-week Easter recess.

However, no decision has been made regarding the district’s final calendar, which has not been drafted yet.

The district’s interim superintendent, John Soderman, and business manager Rick Kester have talked to staff members at each Valley elementary school, Kester said.

Douglas County Professional Educators Association President Marty Cronin said teachers fear “going (at least one) month without a paycheck in tough economic times.”

Also, a lack of any substantial pay raise in the past few years makes the prospect of two months with no check less appealing.

Cronin said Monday there’s been no resolution regarding the problem.

The district’s new school year requires a change from the old school calendar that began on July 1.

A move could be made to switch the district’s fiscal calendar to Sept. 1, according to a letter from DCPEA Vice President Mike Jessup.

The new calendar adopted earlier this month by trustees means teachers probably only face one month between checks during the transition, Cronin said.

Kester said recently that when the district switched to year-round schools in the early 1990s, teachers received double paychecks for two months.

Kester said everyone was paid for two months on the old and new contract.

During those two months, teachers received four months of pay, Kester said. “Now, we have the opposite of that.”

Kester said the district wants to spread the year’s pay over 14 months.

“We’re trying to be as accommodating as possible,” Kester said. “If you look at the end of next year (teachers) will have received the exact same amount of money.”

Kester said he didn’t want economic or labor issues to determine an educational calendar.

Kester said the district will be cognizant of the issue.

“We’re going to do whatever is best and easiest for our employees,” Kester said.