AUGUSTA — The Augusta Board of Education has approved a new contract with the teachers’ union that grants 5.5% salary increases to all teachers, certified educational specialists, nurses, pathologists and social workers in the district. 

The approval Wednesday of the one-year contract caps a yearlong negotiation process and comes nearly four months after the previous, three-year contract expired. The new contract expires Aug. 31.

Jan Murphy, a representative of the Augusta Education Association, said the union’s focus is to retain the staff already within the district and to make sure employees have livable wages in light of high inflation and the added demands of working through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Negotiations went on longer than expected because the board and the union were using different data sets regarding the number of teachers, education level and years of experience, and it resulted in different salary recommendations, officials said.  

Once they sorted out the data sets, the two sides came to a short-term agreement in early December. 

“The negotiating team offered this one-year solution as there are many teachers in the district who, due to inflation and other rising costs, desperately need salary increases now,” Murphy said in a statement to the Kennebec Journal. “As it became evident that both sides were far from agreeing on salary proposals for the subsequent years, the present year was solely agreed upon.” 


The recently approved contract indicates that negotiations for a 2023-25 deal will be restricted to salary and stipends, and the rest of the terms will carry forward.

Because the contract was just ratified, teachers had been working without a formal contract in place since the beginning of the school year, although they remained covered under the provisions of the expired contract during that time.

Board of Education Chair Amanda Olson said teachers received step increases in line with the 2021-22 salary scale in September despite the delay in approving a new contract.

Teachers will be paid at the new 2022-23 rates retroactively to the start of the school year, according to Olson. They will receive a lump sum covering the difference between what they received and what they should have received since September.

The process of negotiating a new contract is done with the Augusta Board of Education, some members of the central office staff and the teachers’ union, away from the public, mostly in executive or mediation sessions.

Officials were unable to confirm Thursday how much money the district spent on legal fees, but Olson said she “does not anticipate fees to be outside the norm for a typical negotiations process.”


The Augusta Public School Department employs about 210 teachers and enrolls about 2,200 students. 

Under the new contract, a first-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree can make $42,261, up from $40,058 in the previous contract. A teacher’s salary is dependent on her or his level of education and experience, and she or he is paid in “steps.” 

“The goals within the negotiation process have remained steady: Having teachers earn a livable wage, retaining the teachers we have and recruiting teachers to work in the Augusta Public Schools System,” Murphy said. “The educator shortage is not going away, and we need to give educators a reason to work in the Augusta School Department.” 

In the past year, a number of school districts across central Maine saw a staggering number of employees resign, but the Augusta School Department had one of the lowest counts across the area, with 18 resignations for the 2021-22 school year.

The nearby Gardiner-area Maine School Administrative District 11 saw 40 employees leave during the same period. Still, it was the highest number of resignations in the Augusta district in at least five years, board members said recently.

At an Augusta Board of Education personnel meeting in November, officials said the district is expecting more resignations this year than last year, with 14 already submitted by November and eight more approved at Wednesday night’s board meeting.


According to the Maine Department of Education, the average classroom teacher makes $57,977, an amount that has increased about 9% since 2013, when it was $52,890. 

A state law that went into effect this year stipulates the minimum salary for a public school teacher is $40,000. The state gave public school systems three years to be able to maintain the increase, with many having starting salaries of about $37,000. 

Negotiations are expected to start again soon for the 2023-25 teacher contract. Custodians and support staff members will also begin contract negotiations then, with the continued goal of receiving livable wages.

Olson, the school board chair, said the board was happy to “have reached an agreement” with the teacher’s association.

“We are very happy to have reached an agreement on a contract that continues to demonstrate the district and the board’s strong commitment to our educators,” she said.

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