Harrisburg teachers fear hardship from salary cut, payback

Harrisburg

Teachers in the Harrisburg School District say paying back part of their past salaries will create a financial hardship. Some say they may lose their homes.

The district is asking 65 teachers to return a median amount of $12,000, claiming those teachers were overpaid for two school years. The teachers also would take a cut in their future salary.

“We are not in this to become rich,” science teacher Marty Rosenberry said. “If you quote me a number and I sign a contract and all of a sudden you go back and change the number, I kind of felt disappointed and upset.”

Rosenberry is looking at a pay reduction of $4,000 and will have to pay back another $4,000.

“$8,000 is a drop in the bucket for Bill Gates, but for me, that would alter my lifestyle,” he said.

The district came up with the plan after the Harrisburg Education Association filed a grievance last year, saying 79 veteran teachers were underpaid when compared to the 65 new hires. The union hoped the district would raise the pay of veteran teachers.

The district came up with the plan in response to a grievance filed last year by the Harrisburg Education Association. The grievance said 79 veteran teachers were being paid less than the 65 new hires. 

The district says it overpaid nearly $500,000. The union says its corrective plan would cost the district $320,000.

“How are my union members going to trust me as the president?” HEA president Jody Barksdale said. “They are looking at me for guidance and we had nothing to do with the situation.”

So far, two teachers have resigned and more could follow.

“Had this happened in late June, I would have looked elsewhere,” Rosenberry said.

The district did not respond to a request for comment.

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