OGDEN -- Weber School District employees will get an $840 stipend plus one day of salary pay with the $2.6 million in Federal Education Jobs money the Utah Legislature officially accepted in November.
The Weber School board ratified the extra monies at its board meeting last week.
Ogden School District teachers are still waiting for a final decision from the Ogden School Board. Ogden Education Associate members will meet Monday afternoon to decide if they will accept the offer made by the Ogden School Board and negotiations team for the district.
The money was divided among all districts by the state and portioned according to the size of the district, said Ogden/Weber Education union representative Rick Palmer.
All Weber District employees with the exception of district administrators will receive the stipend and day's pay. The federal funds are not allocated for district administrative positions, said Marlene Irons, Weber Education Association president.
"Those administrators in the school buildings qualify, but those that work in the district offices do not," Irons said.
The WEA has been in talks with the district since the summer to work out some kind of extra money for teachers, because the district froze step increases as well as other raises this year because of large budget cuts.
"I have heard only good comments. The employees are happy," Irons said of the ratified extra money they will get.
Employees were concerned when salaries were essentially frozen. Weber District spokesman Nate Taggart said the district is glad to have negotiated something more for employees.
"We feel very fortunate to have received the federal funds. For three years we have had no pay raises and insurance costs have gone up," Taggart said. "It feels good to be able to compensate good workers."
The Weber District won't hesitate to put cost of living as well as step increases back into the budget as soon as they are able. Step increases are raises that come over years spent teaching. There are 16 step increases. Some of those steps don't get a pay increase, but put teachers on a path to receive one, Palmer said.
Taggart said adding step increases back into the budget was the plan.
Irons said no promises have been made that would happen, but all hope it will.
Employees of Ogden School District are still waiting to hear their salary fate. Although the district is required to spend the $1.1 million on its employees, it has not been officially decided how that will happen. In a recent Ogden School Board meeting, teachers as well as area union representative Doug Stephens spoke to the board, pleading for funds to be spent wisely.
"I'm not from here, but when I moved here I fell in love with Ogden," said Ogden High School teacher Michelle Braeden. She explained she doesn't teach for the money, but that she and many of her fellow teachers are just starting their careers and buying homes and raising families.
"The cost of living is going up," she said. She has noticed that some teachers feel compelled to leave the district because they believe officials do not support their new teachers.
"Just remember, you want to keep the best and the brightest in the district," she said.
District Human Resources Director Brenda Ruffier said the district works hard to keep its teachers and does everything it can to support the new teachers coming in.
She also knows that those teachers depend on step increases in their early years. She noted that right now the district negotiating team is in talks with the Ogden Education Association to come to a decision on how that money will be spent.
"The board takes this very serious and (board members) are very competitive about how they spend this money," Ruffier said. When doing the budget for this year, she said, the Ogden School Board had four goals: no tax increases, no loss of days during the school year, no loss of jobs; and no increase in class sizes.
"We do not want our teachers to leave. We have ramped up our pursuit to find excellent teachers, and we want to keep them," Ruffier said. "If there is a way they (the board) can do something with the Obama Education Jobs money, that's what will be done."
Palmer said that leaving has been discussed by teachers if the district can't help them get their step increases. Palmer said teachers are asking for a one-time payment of the step increase they would have received last year with the federal funds.
Also included in the proposal from OEA is pay for a half day of professional development as well as a full day of in-service training.
Members of the OEA will meet today at Ben Lomond High School to discuss whether they will accept what the district offers. If they don't, the next step is called "fact finding," where other options are looked into, Palmer said.
Jordan is the only other district so far that has had to go the fact-finding step over the federal funds. Palmer hopes the agreement can be reached tonight.