Hoping to be able to make teacher pay more competitive next year with neighboring districts, the Union R-XI School Board is looking at compressing its salary schedule.

Teachers are paid based on years of experience and furthering their education. For example, a teacher with a master’s degree and five years’ teaching experience would make more money than a teacher with just five years’ experience and a Bachelor of Science degree. These salary steps can go all the way to a doctorate degree.

Union has 24 steps on its salary schedule, while most other districts in Franklin County stop at 17.

“What we’re looking at is trying to compress the schedule without affecting current teachers’ salaries,” Superintendent Steve Bryant said.

Board member Ron Sohn, who is currently serving on the salary committee, said Union is about $2,000 and in some cases $4,000 behind on the salary schedule compared to other area districts.

“We want to be No. 1 or No. 2,” he said. “Even though we have been raising salaries in the past two years, we are not gaining because we might have given a $1,000 (raise), but other districts have given $1,500.”

Sohn said the steps at the top of the pay scale are competitive with other county districts, however, the problem is that it takes teachers too long to get to that point.

Sohn said the salary committee will have a better idea what the district can offer teachers next year once the budget figures are in place for the next fiscal year.

“We don’t know where the money stands at this point,” he said. “The question is money and how much we can put into that schedule.”