Local school districts are in the midst of negotiations with employees, with two school systems in mediation to settle labor contracts.

The outcome of labor contracts will play a large role in the school budgets soon to be developed by the districts since 80 percent of a budget is spent on personnel pay and benefits. School costs account for the majority of property taxes paid in the local communities.

Maine School Administrative District 40 (Waldoboro, Warren, Union, Friendship and Washington) has been in mediation since September with its teachers union, according to Maine Labor Relations Board Executive Director Marc Ayotte.

In mediation, the state labor board appoints someone to meet with both sides and try to have them come to an agreement.

Ayotte said about 70 percent of the time, mediators can bring the various parties to an agreement. If there is no agreement, the parties can enter into fact finding or arbitration. In Maine, however, arbitration is not binding on money issues.

Superintendent Frank Boynton said the district is working under terms of a contract with its teachers that expired last summer.

In SAD 40, the 2008-2009 pay scale for teachers ranged from a base pay of $29,798 for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree and no experience to a high of $57,582 for a teacher with a master’s degree and 30 additional credits who has taught for 24 years or more. The scale provides for increases each of the first 24 years.

Boynton said that even though no agreement has been reached, the district moved teachers up a step this year on the pay scale per the prior contract. This means all teachers received step pay raises except for those at the top of the scale.

Regional School Unit 13

Regional School Unit 13, which includes Rockland, Thomaston, St. George, Owls Head, South Thomaston and Cushing, has been in mediation since July with its bus drivers, custodians and food service workers.

The teachers notified the district last month that they wanted negotiations to begin with their association. The teachers formerly employed by SAD 5 had a pay scale for 2008-2009 that ranged from $34,497 for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree and no experience to $57,254 for a teacher with a master’s degree and 15 additional credits with 19 or more years of experience. The teachers formerly employed by SAD 50 had a pay scale of $32,386 to $54,501.

All union contracts expired last summer in RSU 13. The labor agreement with administrators expires in the summer of 2010.

Superintendent Judy Lucarelli said collective bargaining with labor is done in closed sessions and she cannot provide details other than to say all parties have been working hard.

Lucarelli said step increases have been granted this year under the former contracts.

RSU 13 has about 450 employees not counting coaches and substitute teachers.

Five towns

The Five Town Community School District (Camden, Rockport, Hope, Appleton and Lincolnville) and SAD 28 (Camden and Rockport kindergarten through eighth grade) are negotiating with their staff on new contracts. The contracts in the Five Town CSD and SAD 28 expire in the summer of 2010.

The 2009-2010 pay scale for the Five Town CSD and SAD 28 teachers ranges from $33,061 for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree and no experience to $60,149 for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree and 20 years of experience. The top of the scale for a teacher with 20 years or more of experience and a doctorate or two master’s degrees is $65,573.

School Union 69, which covers kindergarten through eighth grade in Hope, Lincolnville and Appleton, has held one negotiating session with the teachers in the Lincolnville Central School but has not begun talks with teachers in Hope and Appleton, said Superintendent David Wiggin.

Wiggin said the district has not received a quote on possible increases in health insurance but has heard that it might be a 10 percent increase. This past year, there was no increase, he said.

The salary scales for the three towns in School Union 69 are separate.

In Appleton, the scale ranges from $30,000 for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree and no experience to $50,018 for a teacher with 19 years or more of experience with a master’s degree.

In Hope, the salary scale ranges from $30,666 for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree and no experience to $62,100 for a teacher with a master’s degree and 35 years of experience.

And in Lincolnville, the scale ranges from $31,045 for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree and no experience to $56,734 for a teacher with 18 or more years of experience and a master’s degree.