|NORRIS ASSOCIATION OF|||||CASE NO. 146|
|EDUCATORS, An Unincorporated||||
|SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 160,||||
|LANCASTER COUNTY, NEBRASKA,||||
|A Political Subdivision of||||
|the State of Nebraska, Also||||
|Known as Norris School District,||||
Appearances: For Plaintiff, Theodore L. Kessner
For Defendant, Edwin C. Perry
Before: Judges Wall, Rudolph and Green
This is a case in which the total offered by the school district and the total demanded by the Teachers' Association is nearly equal. This is also a case where the midpoint of total compensation of the schools offered in evidence by the school district and midpoint of total compensation the schools offered in evidence by the Teachers' Association are nearly equal. In addition, the midpoint of total compensation is also nearly equal if this Court considers only the schools that are common to both lists or includes all the schools offered by both parties. It is clear, therefore, that the issue is not total compensation.
The issue is the distribution of compensation among the teachers. In public education in the schools, teachers are commonly paid on a salary schedule with graduated steps for both education and experience. The common kinds of schedules are 4 x 4, 4 x 5, 5 x 4, and 5 x 5. The first number refers to experience or length of service and the second number refers to training and education. Thus on a 4 x 4 schedule, a teacher who has one year experience would receive 4% more than a beginning teacher; and if that same teacher also had 9 hours of additional training, the teacher would receive an additional 4% for that 9 hours. In addition, this schedule varies by the number of steps. The more steps there are in each category, the more an experienced teacher can make in relation to a new teacher and the greater the percentage increase on each step, the more an experienced teacher may make in relation to a new teacher. Presently, the school boards are interested in hiring new teachers, and therefore would rather use their salary budgets for paying relatively more to such teachers.
The school teacher's associations are more interested in making teaching an attractive, long-term career, and therefore would pay the available salary budget for experience and training. Thus with the same base pay, a 4 x 4 schedule with a small number of steps pays new teachers relatively more while a 5 x 5 schedule with many steps pays teachers with more experience and training more. The existing Norris schedule was somewhat of a compromise in that it was a 5 x 5 schedule but with fewer steps than many other schools. There was testimony that an agreement had been in 1974-75 to add one step for the 1975-76 year. An agreement on this matter would bind the Court as the parties are free to agree on any matters they wish; however, such an agreement would have related to the 5 x 5 schedule adopted in 1974-75. At the trial, however, it became clear that no binding agreement was made in 1974-75 relating to 1975-76 either as to the number of steps, nor the nature of the schedule; and therefore, this Court is free to look to the comparable school to develop such a schedule with appropriate steps.
A composite of these factors is called the staff index number which when multiplied by full-time staff would give the total compensation less compensation for fringe benefits. In looking over the schools offered by the Plaintiff, the staff index figures were as follows:
Add to that the additional schools offered by Defendant which are as follows:
The average of such index figures is 80.72. The schools with an index of between 80 and 81 are: Ashland-Greenwood, Auburn, Fairbury, Falls City, Nebraska City, Springfield, Raymond Central, Wahoo, and Centennial.
These schools all have a 4 x 5 index but considerably more steps than the present Norris schedule. The additional steps range from 5 to 10 and the BA alone but must have 6 steps. The attached Exhibit 1 of Plaintiff's brief meets the median approach as to steps most appropriate. This schedule is substantially the same as proposed in Defendant's conclusion to its brief. The Court, therefore, adopts Exhibit 1 as the appropriate schedule. This schedule provides that the base pay is $7800 and has 6 steps on the BA column, 7 steps on the BA+9, 9 steps on the BA+18, 9 steps on the BA+27, 11 steps on the BA+36 or MA, 11 steps on the MA+18, and 13 steps on the MA+36 or 6 years. Of course, the fringe benefits already agreed upon must also be paid to the teachers.
This schedule grants as total compensation the midpoint of all the schools presented by both parties. The schedule also has generally the same number of steps as schools with the index factors between 80 and 81.
As the litigation shows, the total amount of compensation may not always be the main area of contention. How this compensation is to be distributed among the staff can have equal importance. In such cases, this Court can only look at the same general factors as it has in deciding general compensation. Wood River Education Association v. School District No. 83. The Court looked to the comparable schools having the most common index factor and used them to construct the proper schedule. This being the case, it should not be difficult for the parties who cannot agree on the structure of the schedule to determine what considerations this Court will use to make such a determination.
Now, therefore, it is ordered that the compensation for the teachers employed by the defendants for the 1975-76 school year shall be determined by a salary schedule having a $7800 base and an index factor of 4 x 5 as set out as Exhibit 1 to this opinion.
Entered December 5, 1975.