The 20 percent pay raise that teachers had been pushing for in their strike last March is looking less likely to become a reality as the 2013 draft budget handed to Parliament last week forsees only a marginal spending increase for their salaries.
Further complicating the issue, national budget allocations for schools are administered by local governments, which are under no obligation to make good on the ruling coalition's salary-related promises.
The Ministry of Education had agreed to raise the minimum salary for teachers to 715 euros a month, in addition to raising the average salaries by 11 percent, 840 euros.
The means given to local governments, however, allow wages to be raised by only a couple percent.
Tartu Mayor Urmas Kruuse told ERR radio that the new minimum salary could be achieved, but that wages on average would see smaller gains.
His assessment was echoed by Tallinn Education Department head Andres Pajula, who added that some of the raises are buried beneath bureaucracy. For example, extra money that had been given to teachers for working as class advisers is now lumped in with general teachers' salary funds. Pajula said that municipalities would also be cutting teaching assistant positions.
In Tallinn, the average wage will rise by only about 5 percent, not 11 percent.
Ministry of Education Deputy Chancellor Kalle Küttis said local government representatives are misrepresenting the facts. He said that education support has risen, and with the decreasing number of schools and students, local governments should use the funds for the salary raises.
Kruuse responded that raises should not be carried out at the expense of services for teachers and students.