Weighted Pupil Unit (WPU): This “pot” is allocated by the Utah State Legislature during its annual session. This year, GEA members helped us raise this amount to 6% with the loud messages sent through schoolwide walk-ins and state capitol rally. This 6% is quantified and measured amounts are distributed to each school district. The parameters for use are school employee salary and benefits. This year, GEA was able to negotiate that 5% of the total funds be allocated to educators evenly or what we call “across the board” on the salary schedule, as well as fund the increases to salary schedule steps and lanes.
Teacher Salary Supplement Program (TSSP): is a fund legislated in 2019 to supplement the needs in local school districts – 25% of the total fund may be spend on employee salaries. GEA cannot negotiate for other employee groups, but we went on record with the District that this available money should be spent on increasing substitute teacher and paraeducator pay. Our goal was to make a formal statement of the need to enhance support in these areas.
Local Tax Levy: Three years ago, when GEA negotiated an 11.67% salary increase, the district school board agreed to increase local taxes in order to supplement this enhanced increase. As you may be aware, tax increases are very unpopular, and the school board took the heat from constituents in order to honor educators in this way. An adjustment was made to the levy amount this year, which was unexpected. Being that the money was available only for this one-time adjustment, GEA negotiated that a one-time Bonus of 3% be paid to educators as a way to capture the funding.
Self-insured Insurance: Granite District provides one of the best employee insurance plans in the state. An insurance committee, which includes representatives from every employee group (including GEA) meets monthly to review the plan activity, make suggestions for bettering the plan, and deciding how to cover insurance plan increases. District employees have been successful in holding costs down through increased utilization in the Wellness Clinic and use of generic prescriptions. This has enabled a few years with no plan changes (i.e. increased co-pays or utilization maximum amounts). This year we had a 1.7% increase in usage, which meant meeting to determine how to change the plan to cover the increase. Through negotiations, GEA and GSD agreed that the District would cover the increases through savings within the self-insured plan (funding that may only be used for this purpose).
In closing, we hope that this blog answers the questions many educators had as to why the COLA was only 5%.