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Teachers approve contract

Camdyn (left) and Camyla Marohn walked Monday with their dad, Lowell School teac1 / 2
Garfield teacher Cynthia Askerooth-Olson walked into Forestview Monday with the2 / 2

Brainerd teachers voted and ratified the 2011-13 master teachers’ contract Monday, Superintendent Steve Razidlo said Monday night.

Razidlo said he was notified of the affirmative vote around 5:15 p.m. Monday by teachers’ union representatives. He said he wasn’t told the vote tally but that was usually the case on votes like this.

“I think this is good news for the students and staff and for the community,” Razidlo said.

The school board will meet at 8 a.m. Tuesday at the Washington Educational Services Building board room to vote on the tentative contract agreement.

Education Minnesota Brainerd President Tim Edinger said at 6 p.m. Monday he would not confirm a vote took place or comment on a vote or contract negotiations until teachers have a new contract following Tuesday’s board meeting.

Razidlo said it was important to both sides seated at the negotiating table to finish contract negotiations before taxpayers vote on the two operating levy questions Nov. 8.

“It was important to us to have negotiations completed for a whole host of reasons and I’m happy we’re going to have a shot at doing that,” said Razidlo. “It’s a desire to be open and transparent with the public. It’s a desire to not have negotiations consume an academic year or to be ongoing. Teachers have their most important job to do and that is to provide great experiences for kids and we were hoping this could be done before the levy question but also to move out of the realm of public discussion where it can sometimes be a distraction.”

The district released details about the tentative agreement Monday. The new teachers’ contract, which would go into effect retroactively July 1, calls for no wage increases for the 2011-12 school year and a 2 percent salary increase for the 2012-13 school year. The contract also includes steps and lanes increases.

Before 2012, there haven’t been any increases to the salary schedule for teachers for three consecutive years.

The agreement also includes a reduction in health insurance benefits by increasing both the annual deductible and the out-of-pocket maximum paid for by each employee, as well as increasing the co-payments for prescription drugs.

Steve Lund, director of business services, said that based on previous year claims the reduction in benefits will shift about $350,000 of annual medical insurance costs from the school district to its employees.

Based on this collective agreement, Lund said 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 during the two years slightly beyond the average medical insurance costs and the required employee contribution to the state’s retirement plan. But a seasoned teacher at the top of the salary schedule won’t likely see an increase in salary sufficient enough to cover the insurance costs and the required retirement contribution during the two-year period.

This settlement won’t provide a sufficient salary adjustment that will allow all of the district’s teaching staff to see an increase in their net take-home pay, Lund said.

“One of the district’s main goals from our recently revised vision statement is to continue to attract high quality teachers,” Tom Haglin, a board member and chair of the Long Range Planning Committee, said in a statement released by the district.

“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.”

“I feel safe in saying that both sides feel the negotiation’s process was well organized and managed efficiently,” Chris Robinson, board member and chair of the Personnel Committee, said in a district statement. “Collective bargaining is a process of finding compromise to address important issues for both the employer and employee. 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.”

JODIE TWEED may be reached at or 855-5858.