Teacher negotiations continue

Teacher contract negotiations continued Tuesday between the Minot Public School Board and the Minot Education Association, but the two sides failed to reach an agreement.

MEA negotiators presented their second contract proposal Tuesday, which calls for a $3,900 increase on the base salary for a beginning teacher with no experience for the 2013-2014 school year, bringing the starting salary to $37,700. That is a drop from their first proposal, which called for the starting salary to be $38,300. The current base salary is $33,800.

Also in the MEA’s second proposal is a proposal for teachers to receive substitute pay if they are required to take over duties for another teacher when the district can’t find another substitute. In their second proposal, teachers also asked that they be able to take personal leave for the illness of a child or stepchild older than age 21 as well as for a spouse, parents, dependents and children or stepchildren under 21. They dropped a proposal that would have specified time off for the illness of specific family members and just used the blanket term “family.”

In their second proposal, teachers also proposed that retiring teachers be compensated for unused sick leave at a rate of $50 per day, instead of $10 per day, provided that they submit a letter of resignation by Feb. 15 of the year they retire.

Teachers also proposed adding “one-act play director” to the extracurricular salary schedule, adding “unexpected cancellation of child care” to the list of reasons a teacher can take necessary leave, and proposed that “contemplated changes to the Minot Public Schools personnel policies should be discussed with the president of the (Minot Education) Association.”

Board negotiators countered with their own second proposal.

The board proposes a two-year contract, with a $2,000 increase to the base salary in 2013-2014, bringing it to $35,800 and a $1,000 increase to the base salary in 2014-2015, bringing it to $36,800. The board would pay the 2 percent increase in contributions to the Teachers Fund For Retirement and teachers would also pay a 2 percent increase in 2014-2015. In addition, the board proposes that it would pay health insurance increases for teachers in both years of the contract, estimated at 6.3 percent for 2013-2014 and 7 percent for 2014-2015. In addition, the board suggested some changes to the salary index for first and second-year teachers, increasing their pay.

Board negotiator and business manager Scott Moum estimated that the proposal represents a 7.10 percent increase in salary and benefits for 2013-2014 and a 5.83 percent increase for 2014-2015.

The board also proposed adding two days to the extra-curricular salary schedule for every coach who is required to take the classes necessary to obtain the North Dakota High School Activities Association coaching certification. The district will no longer pay for the cost of the courses needed to obtain certification. Any grade 7-12 coach covered by the negotiated agreement who fails to obtain certification will be assessed a $200 deduction in gross salary to their contracted salary.

The board proposes paying teachers the substitute daily rate of pay for each day of unused personal leave in excess of three accumulated days. Board negotiators said they view this as an incentive for teachers not to use their personal leave days and stay in the classroom.

Board members said they are not interested in changing the policy to permit teachers to take necessary leave for the illness of a child over age 21. They view that request as excessive.

Board negotiator and board vice president Roger Kluck said he is willing to recommend to administrators that teachers be permitted to take leave due to the cancellation of child care, but he doesn’t want to include it in the negotiated contract.

Kluck also said the board is not willing to require that personnel policy changes need to be discussed with the MEA president beforehand. Kluck said he believes the board is approachable. Policy changes are given two readings before they are approved at board meetings. He also said the MEA president sits in on board meetings and is invited to give input during and after the meetings.

No agreement was reached on Tuesday. The two sides agreed to hold their next negotiations meeting at 5 p.m. June 3 in the board room of the Minot Public School District Administration Building. Board negotiatiors are Kluck, Brenda Foster and Moum. MEA negotiators are Marlene Srock, Mike Gessner and Bill Irmen.