The Jefferson County Board of Education on Tuesday unanimously approved a 5% raise for JCPS teachers next year as well as other perks meant to provide more flexibility.
The Jefferson County Teachers Association contract extension went before the board Tuesday night for final approval after receiving approval by union members earlier in November.
The changes are an effort to retain and recruit educators amid a nationwide shortage, and this is the second substantial raise Louisville's teachers have seen in the last two years. In June, leaders announced teachers would get a blanket 4% raise for the 2022-23 year.
The contract extension is a three-year agreement, and additional raises will be negotiated by the union and board the following two years.
Some teachers are poised to earn more if they work in Accelerated Improvement Schools and in the "Choice Zone" — a set of 13 schools in and near the West End that are part of the district's new student assignment plan. Aside from the raises, they will get an extra $8,000 each year beginning in the 2023-24 school year.
“We know how challenging the teaching profession has been the past few years and will continue to be with the increasing shortage of educators,” Superintendent Marty Pollio said in a news release. “We believe this agreement is proof that JCPS wants our teaching professionals to not only be the best compensated in Kentucky, but also feel the most valued.”
More than the increased salary, the contract includes stipulations that are geared toward giving teachers more flexibility in their work day and cutting back on work outside of educating students.
Other changes in the contract include:
Requiring district leaders to cut back on paperwork for teachers
Letting teachers make up lost planning time outside school and after the normal contracted workday
Creating a task force to review how "walk-through" observations, required meetings and related paperwork impact teachers - and find potential areas for improvement
Allow sick days to be used in half-day increments, helping educators take doctors' appointments during the day without needing to have a substitute for the full day.
While the teacher shortage is not unique to JCPS, district data shows teacher retention tanked coming out of last school year, dropping close to 4 percentage points to 93.5%. Some schools lost nearly half of their teachers last year.
As a state, Kentucky ranked No. 9 in the country with the highest shortage per population, with less than nine educators per 1,000 people, according to an analysis by Schoolaroo. Florida ranked the worst with less than seven teachers per 1,000 people and North Dakota the best with more than 13.
"I think it’s a very good agreement that will be beneficial to the students of Jefferson County," Brent McKim, the teachers union president, said ahead of the board's vote.
Aside from the raise, McKim said allowing teachers to use their sick days in half-day increments is a "really significant" change that he believes will benefit both teachers and substitutes.
The change will decrease the amount of time one teacher might have to cover for another and could increase the number of subs who are available to cover classes, he said.
Additionally, because teachers are now spending far more time covering other classes than they previously had to, he believes allowing teachers more flexibility for when and where they make up their planning time will benefit teachers' work-life balance.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: JCPS teachers to receive pay bump, more flexibility in work day