By Ryan Gueningsman
A contract agreement has been reached between the Delano Teachers Association and the Delano School District for the next two years.
There will be a 1.6 and a 1.4 percent new money increase in the first year and second year, respectfully, commented School Board Member Peter Brasket of the school board’s negotiation team.
With an additional .5 percent increase each year because of a contingency pay clause, the increase will actually be 2.1 and 1.9 percent over two years.
“They earn that (extra .5 percent) by participating in subcommittees, working toward knowledge acquisition, and things of that nature,” Brasket said, adding there will also be no change to the existing teacher health care coverage.
“All new educators hired next year will be enrolled into the VEBA (Voluntary Employee Benefits Association) program until they reach tenure,” Brasket said.
An additional work day was also added into the contract, which means teachers will now work 182 days instead of 181. He said that additional day is probably going to be used for training and development.
Brasket said this year, the challenge facing the district is how to deal with the increase in health insurance premiums, versus the low increase in education funding from the state.
He said school districts will receive 2 percent and 1 percent, respectfully, over the next two years from the state.
“Health premiums went up 18 percent this year, and we expect a similar increase next year,” Brasket said.
Brasket felt negotiations were a bit challenging this year, and said the extra work day coming to play, as well as the VEBA adoption for all new hires, will help the district in the future.
“We just need to continue to move the school district in a direction where we offer a great health plan for our employees, but one that doesn’t consume a large part of the budget.”
“I’m glad it’s done, and we can focus now on the land situation, paraprofessional contracts, and other bargaining,” Brasket said.
Delano Teachers Association President Dan Paulson offered “no comment” when asked about the agreement last week.
The negotiating team for the teachers included Steve Brown, Jim Vancura, Mike Shoultz, and Corey Lahr.
The negotiating team for the board included Brasket, Tim Douglas, and Becky Schaust.
The school board will take official action on the contract Thursday, Jan. 3 at its reorganizational meeting at 4 p.m. at the Delano City Hall.