As a member of the Lewiston-Porter School Board, I found The News' editorial regarding teachers' pay right on the money. This is a highly intensive industry, and salaries are by far the largest single component of school budgets.
The situation is really more acute than suggested, since The News probably reported only the rises in total cost-of-wages rather than individual increases. Replacement of retiring, higher-paid personnel with less senior people keeps the total cost increases less than the average individual increases.
A basic factor underlying these large pay increases is the inability of most school board members to recognize the presence of "automatic" yearly step-wise increments built into all teacher contracts, which are usually along the order of 2 percent to 3.5 percent. These generous settlements are helped along by boards that negotiate in terms of percentage increases applied across the scale, rather than in fixed-dollar amounts. The former produce individual increases that escalate rapidly over time, while the latter have a distinctly moderating character over time.
Frank Collins Lewiston