The Billings School District 2 teachers union has sent surveys to its members gauging their willingness to reduce their negotiated pay raises over the next two years as the district grapples with a multimillion-dollar budget deficit.
The surveys are due Monday.
Teachers are being asked if they would be open to shaving 1 percent from the 3.6 percent raise negotiated into next school year’s contract. They’re also being asked about the possibility of locking into a 1 percent raise for the 2011-12 school year.
Jeff Greenfield, president of the Billings Education Association, the district teachers union, acknowledged Wednesday that the survey went out but declined to comment further until the results are returned.
Two years ago, the district agreed on a three-year contract with the union that guaranteed teachers a 2 percent raise in 2008, a 3.75 percent raise in 2009 and a 3.6 percent raise for 2010. That 3.6 percent raise is worth roughly $4 million.
The district is now in the second year of the contract, and so far the raises have continued on schedule.
Superintendent Jack Copps has said administrators in the district would feel obliged to accept smaller raises for themselves — or no raises — if union members decided to do the same.
The combined projected budget shortfall in SD2 over the next two years is $4.2 million. To close that gap, the district has floated the idea of cutting activities, staff and programs, and clustering its elementary schools, a move that would spread the kindergarten-through-sixth-grade population across three schools.
If teachers agree to the pay concessions, the savings over the two years could come close to closing the projected $4.2 million deficit.
On Monday, trustees voted to go after three mill levies worth a total of nearly $4 million. The new funds would support operational costs at the elementary schools and buy new technology for the elementary and high schools.
Contact Rob Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 406-657-1231.