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St. Louis Public School teachers accept contract with one-time raise

teacher in classroom
Provided| U.S. Department of Education

St. Louis Public School teachers should be getting a little extra money just in time for the holidays.  But their long-term salary trajectory remains unknown.

American Federation of Teachers Local 420 members voted Thursday night to accept the district’s latest offer: a one-time lump sum in next Friday’s paychecks and an across-the-board two percent raise next school year. Teachers will receive an extra $1,400 next Friday; aides and clerical staff will receive $1,100.

Local union president Mary Armstrong said she was “raked over the coals” by some union members for recommending they accept the proposal, which does not include movement on the district’s pay scale.

“There were even those who called for me to step down because they didn’t think the leadership was affective enough, and that I was in bed with the district,” Armstrong said.

St. Louis Public School teachers with years of experience are being paid the same salary as first-year teachers because the district has frozen movement on its published pay scale since 2009.

Teachers made passionate pleas to be paid for their experience during Special Administrative Board meetings this fall.

More than 30 percent of teachers who voted Thursday night rejected the district’s offer. Almost 90 percent of the aide and clerical vote favored it.

Armstrong said she recommended accepting the proposal despite the lack of salary scale movement because “this was the best deal that we could get.”

“We had our expert from the AFT national office come in and look at the district’s annual audit (and) current budget to see if there were monies available that could have been used towards salaries” Armstrong said. “Could they have given more money? They probably could have, but we were just not the group that was going to get it.”

Armstrong said the union will continue working towards “an equitable and competitive salary schedule” in future years, as well as work to increase outreach to membership.

In a statement, St. Louis Public Schools said the district “realizes teachers and support staff have made financial sacrifices during the past few years” and “will continue to look for additional ways to secure funding to compensate staff for their dedication to the children of St. Louis.”

According to Armstrong, Local 420 has 2,197 members. It represents 3,491 teachers, teaching assistants and clerical staff at St. Louis Public Schools.

Teacher strikes are illegal in Missouri.

Follow Camille Phillips on Twitter: @cmpcamille.