PEQUOT LAKES - The Pequot Lakes School Board Monday approved and ratified its agreement with its teachers for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years.
Superintendent Rick Linnell said the teachers' union voted and ratified the settlement last week. The contract calls for a .25 percent wage increase for 2009-10 and a .25 percent wage increase for 2010-11. In previous contracts, teachers had to pay no health insurance premiumsunder an individual health insurance plan. Now under the new agreement, the district pays 90 percent and the teacher pays 10 percent. As with the previous contract, teachers insured under the family plan receive $1,800 a year toward the cost of their health insurance premiums.
Linnell said the matrix for step increases for teachers also was changed. In the previous contract, teachers received small step increases and then a larger boost at two different years for up to 25 years of service. Instead, the new contract spreads those step increases out throughout the course of a teacher's years of service at different incremental amounts.
Linnell said the total cost increase to the district for the wages and benefits settlement, including FICA and TRA increases, is about a total 3.76 percent over the course of two years. The district, like all Minnesota districts, has until Jan. 15 to ratify its teachers' contracts or face a loss of state appropriations. Linnell estimated the district would have lost about $45,000 as a penalty for not reaching a contract agreement.
"It was a difficult negotiations because of the economic status of the state and school district, but it wasn't difficult because of our negotiators," Linnell explained. "I have to give credit to our teaching staff. I know they weren't happy, they would have liked to get more.
But it's kind of amicable when both sides feel they didn't do a great job at it. It was a decent settlement for both teachers and the district in this economy. We're glad to have it done. Both sides are glad to have it done."
The Brainerd School District has yet to reach a contract settlement with its teachers' union, Education Minnesota Brainerd. The school board personnel committee met in closed session for three hours Monday to discuss negotiations strategies and planned to meet again with union negotiators Tuesday. The Brainerd district could lose about $200,000 in state appropriations if it does not reach a settlement by the Jan. 15 deadline.
JODIE TWEED may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5858.
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