Herald Journal - Enterprise Dispatch - Delano Herald Journal
Delano School Board, Teachers Assn. reach contract settlement
January 18, 2010

Salaries for next two years frozen; lane movements remain intact

By Ryan Gueningsman
Managing Editor

DELANO, MN – Delano School Board and the Delano Teachers Association (DTA) have reached a contract settlement.

According to a joint statement issued Friday afternoon by the Delano School Board and the DTA, salaries for the two years of the contract period were frozen.

Both the district and DTA believe that teachers are to be encouraged and rewarded to further their education in order for the district to continue to strive for educational excellence; therefore, lane movement will remain intact, according to the statement.

This will account for about $95,000 of the settlement. No step increases will be implemented, according to School Board Chairman Peter Brasket.

The total package cost to the district is $531,034 over the two years for this settlement, the vast majority of which is for health insurance premiums, according to Brasket.

Using the Minnesota School Boards Association format by which all districts report, Delano’s settlement is less than 4.5 percent, according to Brasket.

Health insurance was the priority for both parties in light of a significant increase in premiums this year and the settlement reflects this priority, according to the statement.

The goal of both parties was to minimize the impact of the increase for both the district and teachers in the future.

An increase in insurance benefits was agreed to for both years of the agreement, with an emphasis placed on the Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA) health insurance plan. This is the equivalent of a health savings account program for employees under a collective bargaining unit (unions).

The district implemented the VEBA high deductible health savings plan several years ago, according to the statement.

This plan should experience a lower rate of premium increases in the future because of the high deductible feature, while maintaining an excellent level of benefits for the employee and dependents.

“The Delano Teachers Association has established a history of working with the School Board in efforts to create a successful district,” said Neva Stoebner, president of the DTA, in the statement. “Recognizing that we are currently in a difficult economic situation, we affirm that the contract was settled in a manner that promotes the greater good of the school and the Delano community.”

According to Brasket, “Both parties recognize the difficult economic times that Minnesota is experiencing and believe this agreement is sensitive to these economic conditions. The board and the teachers are aligned on the challenges that the district faces and this outcome is a reflection of those concerns.”

Contract negotiations between the Delano School District and the DTA were facilitated Jan. 6 by a mediator from the Bureau of Mediation Services after several months of meetings.

A tentative agreement was reached in mediation and approved Jan. 13 by both the Delano School Board and DTA.

An estimated 316 of the state’s 344 districts met the Jan. 15 deadline to reach settlements with their teachers, according to Education Minnesota. The 28 districts that are not expected to make the deadline face a $25 per-student fine.

Education Minnesota, the union of 70,000 educators, estimates more than half of the state’s teachers accepted salary freezes in one or both years of their new two-year contracts.

Four years ago, Minnesota ranked 16th in the nation in average teacher salary, according to Education Minnesota, and today, it ranks 20th.

The average teacher salary in Minnesota is $51,938, compared to the national average of $54,333, according to Education Minnesota. The average starting salary for a Minnesota teacher is $33,009.


 

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