By Ryan Gueningsman
DELANO, MN Negotiations at Delano Public Schools between its teachers and the district have entered into mediation, it was noted at the December school board meeting.
Health care costs and state financing that has essentially been frozen are current issues. Both the teachers and district have agreed on a mediator, and a meeting has been set for Wednesday, Jan. 6.
Brasket reported negotiations have been “very positive and productive.” He said educators form the largest part of the district’s budget.
“We’ve met seven times since late August or early September,” Brasket said. “The meetings have been fairly productive. We’ve talked about a lot of issues.”
As of mid-December, Brasket said about 60 settlements have been reported to the Minnesota School Board Association.
The average total package settlement for two years is just over 4 percent.
“I think one of the challenges, for educators, is that this number is a lot less than in years past,” Brasket said, and noted most educators are aware of the situation the state’s in.
“We got to a point after seven meetings where we’re really not making as much progress as we’d like to, so both parties have agreed to invite a mediator to come in and work with district and educators to try to resolve and bridge the gap,” Brasket said.
Of the 339 districts in the state of Minnesota, Brasket said 169 have requested mediation.
“So, about half of the school districts have resorted to bringing in a third party professional mediator to help address this,” he said.
Brasket feels many of these districts are probably dealing with the same issues Delano is, including increasing health care costs against the backdrop of decreased revenues.
“We are deficit-spending this year in our schools, and will be next year,” Brasket said, noting the district is trying to make cuts as it can.
He said he is confident the district and educators will be able to come to some sort of conclusion, adding it will most likely be after the mediation session Jan. 6.