MERIDIAN -- The Meridian School District plans to cut salaries next school year to help absorb big losses in state funding. Just how much of a pay cut employees face depends on the voters.
"Nobody wants a pay cut. Nobody wants to go that way, but in the big scheme of things we understand it could be a lot worse," said Susan Colvard.
Susan Colvard is the lead negotiator for the Meridian Education Association. The teachers union has been working since last month with the Meridian School district over just how much to cut teacher pay, 3.6 percent or 6.8 percent. Now it's up to the voters.
"I"m really trusting that the voters will understand that the vote that they have on June 8 has nothing to do with raising taxes," said Colvard.
For the pay cuts to only be 3.6 percent, voters must give the district permission to transfer $4 million from its maintenance levy to its general operating budget. The district says the move would not increase taxes.
"We made a promise to our community that while we're a growing district we're not going to raise your levy rate," said Eric Exline with Meridian School District.
If voters do not approve the measure, employees would face a 6.8 percent pay cut, the elimination of five school days, eight teacher training days, and students who want to participate in extracurricular activities would be forced to pay-to-play.
"In the middle school it would be $50. In the high school it would be $100," said Exline.
Teachers who belong to the union will also have their say. They can reject the two options on the table, but Colvard foresee that happening.
"It's never okay to take a pay cut, but when the state passed down one that was over four, we feel we did a really good job. We kept our benefits in tact. We tried to not hurt one group over another," said Colvard.
"We don't think we'll go there. We think people will look at this and say okay let's put off some maintenance for now and put it into operations and it won't affect the levy rate. But again, it's up to the voters," said Exline.
The vote is scheduled June 8 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at all Meridian schools, except the alternative schools. Voting is open to qualified voters who live in the Joint School District Number 2.