Brainerd School Board, Education Minnesota Brainerd reach tentative contract settlement
The Brainerd School Board has reached a tentative agreement with Education Minnesota Brainerd.
The new contact calls for a 0% increase in salary in this school year 2011-12 and a 2% increase in salary beginning in 2012-13. With this delay, there has been no increase to the salary schedule for three consecutive years.
“I feel safe in saying that both sides feel the negotiations process was well organized and managed efficiently,” says Director Chris Robinson, Chair of the Personnel Committee. “Collective bargaining is a process of finding compromise to address important issues for both the employee and the employer. Knowing this, both sides worked diligently on important issues for the future of our district and its staff, during a continued challenging time in our history.”
To help Brainerd Public Schools best manage rising health insurance costs, the tentative agreement includes a reduction in health insurance benefits by increasing both the annual deductible and the out-of-pocket maximum paid by each employee, as well as increasing the co-payments for prescription drugs. “These reduced benefits represent a shift of health care costs from employer to employee in an effort to help stabilize premiums,” explains Director of Business Services Steve Lund, adding that based on previous year claims, the reduction in benefits will shift approximately $350,000 of annual medical insurance costs from the school district to its employees.
Based on this collective agreement, a teacher still early in his or her career and eligible to move a ‘step’ on the salary schedule will see an average increase in gross salary over the two years slightly beyond the average increasing medical insurance costs and increase in the required employee contribution to the State’s retirement plan. Conversely, because of the 0% increase on the salary schedule in the first year of the agreement, an average senior teacher at the top of the salary schedule will likely not see an increase in salary sufficient to cover the increasing insurance costs and the required increased retirement contribution over the two-year period. The settlement will not provide a sufficient salary adjustment that will allow all of our teaching staff to see an increase in their net take-home pay.
This agreement uses the limited amount of funds available to best preserve the step movement in salary for teachers early in their careers. “One of the district’s main goals from our recently revised vision statement is to continue to attract high-quality teachers,” says Director Tom Haglin, Chair of the Long Range Planning Committee. “Students are performing well in our system, and quality teachers are one of the main reasons why we get the results we do. This agreement is a demonstration of both employer and employees working together to best accomplish this goal, given the challenging times we all are facing.”