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St. Louis County teachers OK contracts | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota

imagesPublished November 27, 2013, 12:00 AM

St. Louis County teachers OK contracts

Disagreements over insurance and salary were the biggest holdups to the St. Louis County school district’s two expired teachers’ contracts, according to the union’s leader.

By: Jana Hollingsworth, Duluth News Tribune

Disagreements over insurance and salary were the biggest holdups to the St. Louis County school district’s two expired teachers’ contracts, according to the union’s leader.

Contracts for 2011-13 and 2013-15 for the district that includes schools in Culver, Tower, Babbitt, Cook and Iron finally were ratified Monday. The 2011-13 agreement was ratified nearly 900 days after the expiration of the preceding contract, said Dave Fazio, president of Education Minnesota St. Louis County.

“Any money items were a big obstacle for the district,” he said, explaining the length of negotiations.

The 2011-13 contract was the last settled teachers’ contract in the state. The agreement means no salary increase and no increase to insurance for teachers, who instruct about 1,900 students districtwide. Teachers who had performance increments withheld from their pay — previously known as steps for furthering their education — will get that money.

The 2013-15 contract allows for a $300 stipend the first year for each of the 150 teachers with a 2.5 percent insurance out-of-pocket increase. The second year of the contract calls for a $1,600 increase to the steps on the salary schedule with up to an additional 5 percent increase to out-of-pocket insurance expenses. Performance increments are allowed in both years of the contract.

With the current contract, teachers make about between $33,000 and $70,000, depending on education and experience, with the district average around $52,000, Fazio said.

Statewide, 91 of the 333 district contracts tracked by Education Minnesota have been settled for the 2013-15 period. The Duluth school district remains unsettled. The average salary increase has been 1.75 percent the first year and 2.2 percent the second year. The increases don’t include those for experience and more training.

St. Louis County district teachers lag behind the state average in pay increases, said Fazio, a high school math teacher at the North Woods School that serves students from Cook and Orr.

But, it was time the contracts were resolved, he said.

“It’s as good as we’re going to get and we need to move on,” Fazio said. “I think teachers deserve a raise and a fair living.”

District Superintendent Teresa Knife Chief could not be reach for comment Tuesday.

via St. Louis County teachers OK contracts | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota.

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