La Crosse School Board votes to keep 2% teacher wage increase

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — The La Crosse School Board voted tonight to increase teacher wages by 2%, less than half of what teachers asked for.

The wage debate between the district and area teachers has gone on for weeks– the state even stepped in to help mediate.

Both sides made their cases to the community today. Teachers and board members were emotional at Monday night’s meeting.

Members of the La Crosse Education Association and its supporters dressed in red and filled the auditorium.

The union asked the district for a cost-of-living wage increase of 4.7%, while the school countered at 2%.

On Monday night, the board went into closed session for more than an hour to discuss wages.

When the board came out of its session, members told the audience they had no choice but to approve the district’s proposal because of the budget.

“This is not easy to say and it is not easy to hear. There are no words to make this any better, and I agree with many of those who have come before the board saying these words only ring hollow. But our staff members and community deserve to know where the board members stand when it comes to this issue,” Laurie Cooper Stoll, a member of the La Crosse Board of Education, said.

The 2% applies to next school year.

Education Association President Jesse Martinez, as well as two retired La Crosse teachers, spoke to the board and community ahead of the vote.

Martinez urged them to value teachers.

“It’s time to start listening to what your employees are telling you and what your community is telling you. The community wants this district to prioritize the people in front of the students every single day instead of the physical spaces they work in. Listen to them,” Martinez said.

Ahead of the decision, Martinez said that the education association plans to keep fighting for what it says is best for its students.

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