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Paynesville Press - April 3, 2002

School board approves two-year teacher contract

By Michael Jacobson

The Paynesville Area School Board approved a new two-year contract with its teaching staff on Tuesday, March 26.

The contract calls for a three percent increase in 2001-02 and a four and a half percent increase in 2002-03, totaling seven and a half percent.

The settlement is less than the state average, said superintendent Howard Caldwell. Settlements across the state have ranged from eight to 12 percent, he told the board.

"Seven and a half percent when the state average is nine and a half percent," said board member Mark Dingmann, who served on the board's negotiating committee with Maurice Dosdall and Allen Schmidt. "We think that is a pretty good deal."

"They're giving something up," added Schmidt. "There are a lot of districts who are paying more."

The board did propose no increase in 2001-02, but that got voted down by the teacher's union, Dingmann said.

"We are getting it relatively cheap," he added later in the meeting, "and it's all due to the teachers being willing to accept less than the state average."

A tentative agreement with the union was reached in mid-March. The teachers voted to approve the contract on Monday, March 25.

In the first year, the contract includes a 2.15 percent increase in the basic salary structure, with 0.85 percent being for teachers who gain experience and/or education.

In the second year, the contract calls for a 2.70 percent increase in the salary schedule. Another one percent is for step increases, and the rest - a little less than one percent - is split between extra insurance reimbursement and increases in the extracurricular salary schedule.

The new contract also includes some nonmonetary alterations, including the addition of a second personal day per year. Teachers can now build to a maximum of four personal days. Also, sick days were raised to 125 maximum, though it would take ten years without using any to accumulate that many.

A letter of agreement to the new contract also includes modifications to the district's early retirement plan, with the goal being to enable a teacher to retire early to help the district through its financial crunch.

The daily requirements for seventh and eighth grade teachers was changed in the contract for 2002-03, when the school district will split into a K-6 and 7-12 alignment. The day for seventh and eighth grade teachers will now include five teaching periods, one duty period, and one prep period, just like high school teachers.

This change should make it easier to share teachers between the high school and middle school.

Sixth grade teachers, meanwhile, will switch to the elementary teacher job description in 2002-03.

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