Teachers’ contracts delayed until June

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 2, 2001

[05/01/01] Teachers in the Vicksburg Warren School District will have to wait longer than usual this year for employment contracts to be renewed.

In a special meeting Tuesday, the district’s board of trustees voted to delay sending out the documents until next month after the state Board of Education approves a one-time salary increase for Mississippi’s certified teachers.

“I don’t have any doubt they’ll approve it,” VWSD Superintendent Donald Oakes said. “I just don’t feel comfortable giving out the contracts until after the June 15 state board meeting.”

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At the April 19 board meeting, VWSD trustees approved the 2001-02 teacher salary schedules for the district, believing the state board the next day would accept a $25 million one-time teacher salary supplement to the Mississippi Department of Education during the 2001 legislative session. However, the state board did not, Oakes said, because the supplement can’t be approved until after the recommendation has sustained a 30-day comment period. That makes the earliest date for state acceptance June 15.

VWSD teachers usually receive their contracts before May 23, which is the last day of school, but, Oakes said, “we won’t be that fortunate this year.”

He said he notified the district’s approximately 600 certified teachers and teacher assistants of the delay earlier this week.

“Some teachers think they don’t have a job without a contract, but that’s not true,” Oakes said.

Jenny Drake, an English teacher at Vicksburg High School, said she understands the reason for the delay, but would rather receive her contract before the school year ends.

“I wish they could do things another way,” said the 23-year teacher. “If we were doctors or something else, I don’t think we’d stand for it.”

On the other hand, VWSD’s five trustees agreed with Oakes’ Tuesday suggestion to postpone the contracts.

“I don’t see any reason not to delay them,” trustee Kay Aasand said.

If approved by the State Board of Education, the salary increase will last through the 2001-02 school year. It applies to teachers paid through the Minimum Foundation Program, which is state money used for teacher salaries, health insurance and overall transportation costs. Teachers who have 25 years or more of experience will receive a $1,000 supplement; teachers with less than 25 years of experience will receive a $500 supplement; and teacher assistants will receive a $250 supplement.

Oakes said VWSD’s 137 teachers who are paid from local money instead of Minimum Foundation funds will receive the same salary increase for the 2001-02 school year. “You can’t differentiate,” he said.

Trustees also:

Approved out-of-state travel for the Warren Central’s Big Blue band and directors to Orlando, Fla., May 9-13 to march in the Magic Music Days Parade.

Approved the recommendation that Preston Wilson be hired as the men’s basketball coach at Warren Central High School. Wilson will also teach social studies.