As School Begins In One Rural Idaho District, Teachers Still Negotiating For Higher Pay

Aug 29, 2017

Teachers around the state are ready with lesson plans as a new school year gets under way. But in one tiny school district in rural Idaho, salary negotiations are making this hectic time of year a little more stressful.


Ben Henderson moved to Kamiah, Idaho from Alaska a couple years ago. The high school English and art teacher loves to hunt in the national forests next door and fish along the Clearwater River that runs through town.
 
But Henderson knew he was choosing lifestyle over salary when he took the job in Kamiah, which serves a lot of Native American students and families below the poverty line. The base rate of pay for a first year teacher last year was $33,400 in Kamiah. Henderson is on the union team which is negotiating for better pay at the district.
 
“Our main goal is to correct that – correct the salary schedule – make sure that it’s calculable and equitable," Henderson says.
 
He says in previous years, district leaders have asked taxpayers for more money – but last year they decided against running a levy.
 
“I think if you feel like you’re being taken care of by your boss or your company or your district, that definitely flows through to everything you do . . . whether it’s in teaching or anything else.”
 
Federal negotiators were brought in to help break the tie between the district and the union earlier this month. Henderson says that negotiations are ongoing, even as school begins in Kamiah Wednesday.
 

Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

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