LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The new fiscal year starts Friday and with salary talks still ongoing between Jefferson County Public Schools and its unions, the district is telling employees they won't see a change in their pay until negotiations are complete.

An email sent out to all district employees on Thursday afternoon reads:

Dear JCPS Employee,

Salary negotiations are ongoing for the 2016-17 school year; therefore, you will not see a change in your pay until negotiations are complete.

Classified hourly employees who are now eligible for Longevity Pay, based on their service date with the District, will receive their longevity increase.

Thank you,

JCPS Payroll Department

Allison Martin, a district spokeswoman, said Thursday that salary negotiations are generally finished by mid-July.

"Typically, people never notice because they get their first paycheck in July and the negotiations are wrapped up by then," she said. "However, this year, there is one day of the new fiscal year that will be included in their first paycheck."

Martin said in an effort to improve communication, the district sent out the email to let people know what is going on.

"We didn't want our employees to be caught off guard," she said.

In response to the mass email, the district's largest union -- the Jefferson County Teachers Association -- sent a responsive "Breach of Trust" email to its members and posted it on social media around 5 p.m. Thursday:

Another Breach of Trust

At approximately 2:00 pm today, JCTA members received an email from the District stating that due to ongoing negotiations, steps on the salary schedule would not be implemented per the negotiated JCBE/JCTA agreement on July 1. This comes just two days after the School Board indicated to Dr. Hargens that she needs to improve trust and communications within the school district. They shared that there should be "no surprises" and yet here we are, blindsided with this information. It was completely and unacceptably unprofessional on the part of the District to unilaterally take this action without any communication to the Association. The action itself violates our labor agreement and the law, is not consistent with the JCPS Working Budget which includes funding for step increases, is not consistent with decades of past practice (as recently as two years ago) in which steps have always been honored when contract negotiations were still underway when the fiscal year ended, and is completely at odds with the outpouring of community opposition to such salary and step freezes.

Teachers have been told a year of service is equivalent to a step on the salary schedule. That should have been honored. Teachers should have been able to trust this administration, and yet, they cannot.

The Association will be utilizing all appropriate means to challenge this insulting slap in the face to Jefferson County's educators and the community they serve.

--Brent McKim, JCTA President

Salaries have been a hot topic among JCPS employees in recent months, following the release of a comprehensive salary study that was conducted by an outside firm.

District officials had told the school board on April 26 that as part of the district’s "next steps," they would bring two recommendations to the school board on May 10. Those recommendations, which came from a "Community Advisory Team" comprised of district administrators and community members, included no "step" or cost of living increases in 2016-17 for all employees earning more than $14 an hour. 

It also included a plan to ask the school board for permission to negotiate a percentage increase in 2016-17 for only those employees earning less than $14 an hour.

However, the district never brought the salary study recommendations to the school board for approval on May 10, saying the recommendations are first subject to negotiations with the district's unions.

Martin said since the negotiations are incomplete, it's too early to say if employees will be getting raises or how much the raises might be.

Reporter Antoinette Konz covers K-12 education for WDRB News. She can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

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