Teachers, district approve contract
Salary raise is 1 percent over two years
by John Gessner
A new contract in Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 will give teachers a 1 percent raise in salary schedule over the next two years.
That’s half the raise teachers got in the previous two years under a contract that expired last June 30. That two-year pact raised the salary schedule by 1 percent a year.
Teachers ratified the new contract by a wide margin on March 8. The School Board unanimously approved it on March 13.
District and Burnsville Education Association negotiators reached a tentative deal on Feb. 21, following nine bargaining sessions that began Nov. 30.
The deal may be slightly better than the metro average for settled teacher contracts in the current two-year cycle, BEA President Libby Duethman said.
“We do have neighbors in the metro that have a hard freeze,” she said in an interview. “We have some that have a soft freeze, where you get steps and lanes and don’t have any increase in the salary schedule. We weren’t there.”
The contract is “reflective of economic reality,” Superintendent Randy Clegg said in a news release. “It allows the district to attract and retain quality teachers and to offer a contract that is competitive with neighboring school districts.”
Times are indeed lean for Minnesota school districts. District 191 is looking at a $5 million to $6 million cut in next year’s general fund budget, Duethman noted. The district is studying ways — such as cutting the number of school days — to make up an estimated $15 million shortfall over the next three years.
“The economy should, we hope, pick back up, and things will be better for everybody,” Duethman said.
The contract includes no increase in the district’s contribution to health insurance coverage. Nor will teachers see an increase in the percentage they pay for insurance, Duethman said.
Under the last contract, teachers’ contribution to family coverage rose from 15 percent to 20, and for single coverage from zero to 5 percent, she said.
The new contract includes a wellness incentive that’s part of a districtwide wellness campaign aimed at containing health insurance costs.
The contract includes no increase in stipends paid to coaches and activities advisors.
Teachers had bemoaned what they said was slow progress in negotiations. Twice they appeared in large numbers at School Board meetings to show their displeasure.
“I think that in the beginning of January things turned toward the better and the two teams made some serious progress,” Duethman said.
Negotiations were collaborative and respectful, Stacey Sovine, the district’s human resources administrator, said in a news release.
“It takes time to discuss issues like this,” he said, “but it is valuable time.”
Under the new contract, a first-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree will be paid $34,810 in 2011-12. A teacher with 20 or more years of experience and a master’s degree plus 60 additional credits (or a doctorate) will be paid $83,420.
The contract will be retroactive to July 1, 2011, and continue through June 30, 2013, for the 720 teachers, nurses, psychologists, counselors and other employees in the district’s largest union.
John Gessner is at firstname.lastname@example.org.