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Jefferson County Public Schools, Teachers Reach Tentative Pay Agreement

The Jefferson County Teachers Association has reached a tentative agreement with Jefferson County Public Schools on teacher compensation, the union and school district announced Wednesday.In recent months, JCTA has pressured the school district to go beyond a state-mandated 1 percent pay raise for the 2014-2015 school year. In response, JCPS administrators and the JCTA's directors  have agreed to a $820 pay boost for each district teacher—more than 1 percent for every teachers, according to a joint news release announcing the deal.The $820 raises would also exceed 2 percent for beginning teachers.Also part of the tentative agreement is a 2-percent teacher salary raise for the 2015-16 school year and step increases for the next two school years. The extra service pay schedule will be increased by 1 percent for 2014-15 and 2 percent for 2015-16.In a released statement, JCTA president Brent McKim said the agreement places a needed value on JCPS teachers.“Which will help us attract and keep talented new teachers,” he said in a release.Superintendent Donna Hargens said the pay increase will allow JCPS to remain competitive with other school districts on teacher pay.“Teachers have a direct impact on our students, and we continue to support their work without placing an additional financial burden on our families and the taxpayers of Jefferson County,” she said in a release.We've reached out to JCPS and JCTA for further comment. We'll update when they respond.The agreement comes weeks after the Jefferson County Board of Education voted to not raise property taxes.  Last week, JCTA members expressed disdain for the decision to forego a tax increase.

The teachers union's membership must first approve the recommendations before the agreement is sent to the school board for district approval.  The next school board meeting is set for September 22.Update 2:50 p.m.: The Cost to JCPSJCPS spokesman Ben Jackey said the flat rate increase of $820 for all teachers will come at a near $13 million cost to the district. He said that is slightly more than what would have been the result of the state-mandated 1 percent pay hike.He said the goal of the flat rate pay increase was to gain attention of young, talented teachers."What this actually does is provides teachers who are new to the district or who have a little less experience a little bit bigger raise because they are lower on the pay scale right now," he said."So what we think it does is provide a little bit of an incentive for teachers who are not a part of JCPS to take a harder look at JCPS to become a part of our team."

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.