Hiring the most qualified and experienced teachers has become a trend for the Brandon School Division, despite the effect these salaries have on the budget, according to Supt. Donna Michaels.
"Parents don’t send their kids to school to be educated by weak teachers," Michaels told the Sun. "My job is to put the best teachers possible in front of the students, because that’s what makes a difference."
Although the division works within the parameters of its budget when hiring, Michaels said they’ve never had to deny an opening to an experienced teacher due to budgetary constraints.
"I don’t see us hiring poorly qualified teachers because we’re short on money," she said, adding, "some money will be there and we will have to use that money the best way possible to hire the best qualified teacher."
Staff salaries and benefits will make up more than 85 per cent, or $77,106,400, of the division’s nearly $90-million 2014-15 budget. When broken down, regular instruction will account for nearly 60 per cent while support services make up the other 20 per cent.
Trustees have agreed to cut 11 teaching positions and raise taxes by 2.9 per cent after tentatively approving the 2014-15 budget during last week’s deliberation meeting.
The 11 full-time teaching positions include one from a high school level speciality program, one from divisional learning support services and nine from yet to be determined grade levels. Eliminating 11 teaching positions, which will come into effect in September, will result in $880,000 in reductions.
School board chair Mark Sefton said they "fully expect" these reductions will be handled strictly by attrition.
"There would definitely not be layoffs," Sefton said. "It could be that retirements alone take care of all the reductions."
On average, he said, about 10 to 20 teachers retire annually. He added that nearly 15 teachers retired last year alone.
But if layoffs were ever to occur, term positions would be the first to go, he said. Due to privacy constraints, Sefton was unable to release the amount of teachers currently on term positions.
Brandon Teachers’ Association’s collective agreement expires in June 2014, so salary provisions, including costs related to teacher and support staff salary negotiations and benefit costs, have been considered in developing BSD’s 2014-15 preliminary budget. For the 2014-15 school year, the division will have 1,134.31 staff members on their payroll, which include 670.44 full time teaching positions and 463.86 support staff members.
BSD teacher’s salaries range from a Class 4 to Class 7, Michaels said, adding classes are based on education and experience.
Michaels said the majority of full-time teachers the division hires fall under Class 5. According to fall 2013 BTA collective agreement numbers, a Class 5 salary starts at $54,807 and can go up to $83,969 once a teacher has been teaching for 11 years, which is the maximum in that salary range.
According to Manitoba public schools gross salary comparisons, as of June 2014, the average provincial Class 5 salary ranged from approximately $54,924 to $84,162 before payroll deductions and based on qualifications and years of experience.
Sefton said nearly 75 to 80 per cent of the division’s teachers fall within Class 4 or 5, but they still have "quite a few" teachers who were hired as Class 4 and a "small percentage" as Class 7.
The majority in either Class 4 or 5, he said, have reached 10 or 11 years of experience, which would place them at the $76,700 to $83,969 salary mark.
On March 3, the public is invited to make presentations regarding the budget during a special board meeting. Trustees will finalize the budget on March 10 prior to submitting it before the March 15 provincial deadline.