Education negotiations and proposals

Negotiators for the Minot Education Association proposed raising the base salary for a beginning teacher without experience to $38,300, up from the current base of $33,800.

That was in the first proposal made by negotiators for the MEA, who met with negotiators for the Minot Public School Board on Monday. This was the second teacher contract negotiations meeting this spring.

The MEA also proposed several changes regarding substitute pay, compensation for coaches, and for personal and sick leave.

Teachers want to boost the number of personal leave days that can be taken each year from two days to three per year. These days would be cumulative to five days.

They want to increase the number of sick leave days that can be accumulated by full-time teachers from 180 days to 186 days. Teachers can accumulate 10 sick leave days each year.

Teachers also want to boost the number of personal sick leave days that can be used for the illness of a family member to 10 days per year, up from five days. They also want the language to refer to simply “family” without specifying the relationship. The language in the contract currently allows people to use personal sick leave days for the illness of a spouse, parents, dependents and children or stepchildren under age 21. MEA negotiator Bill Irmen said people define “family” in different ways.

Retiring teachers would also be reimbursed at the rate of $50 per day, up from $10 per day, for unused sick leave, up to 186 days. This would be provided if they submit their resignation letter by Feb. 15 of the year they retire, and would apply to teachers who don’t qualify for early retirement but do qualify for retirement under the North Dakota Teacher’s Fund for Retirement.

The proposal also calls for an increase in the salary of a head coach and would add “one-act play” and “tech director” to the extra-duty curricular salary schedule.

The proposal would also add “unexpected cancellation of child care” to the list of reasons for granting necessary leave for a teacher.

The proposal also calls for elementary teachers to receive substitute pay when they are required to take on the additional duties of another teacher.

Teachers also want new teachers to receive full pay for each day they are required to meet before the start of the contracted school year.

Finally, the MEA asks that the board discuss any contemplated changes in school policies with the president of the MEA before the policies are changed.

The school board did not respond to the teachers’ proposal on Monday night or present its own initial proposal. However, lead board negotiator Scott Moum, the district’s business manager, said the board believes it is best for kids if their teachers are in the classroom as many days as possible. Currently, Moum said, the average teacher in the district misses up to 9 days each year for various reasons, including sick leave or personal leave. He said board members feel teachers already are already spending too much time out of the classroom and some of the teachers’ proposals could lead to even more leave time being taken.

Negotiations are set to resume at 5:30 p.m. today in the board room of the Minot Public School District Administration Building. Negotiators for the MEA are Irmen, Mike Gessner and Marlene Srock. Negotiators for the school board are Moum, board vice president Roger Kluck and board member Brenda Foster.