Editor’s note: This submission is in conjunction with the article “Teacher contract negotiations stalled” published in the Wednesday edition.

Over the course of about 14 months, the School District and teachers union have participated in numerous bargaining sessions.

On March 19, there was a full day mediation session with a mediator provided by the State of Minnesota. Unfortunately, we did not reach an agreement at that mediation session.

The district has given the union a strong offer. The pay and benefits that the district provides for its teachers is very completive.

Any contention that we are not bargaining in good faith is simply wrong. That contention would be based on the mistaken belief that every time we meet to negotiate, the school district must make a better offer.

Common sense alone tells you that is wrong. No law requires the school district to keep making better and better offers.

The district has every right to hold the line on what is a fair offer for our teachers, what is financially sustainable for the district and what is in the best interests of our students, parents and community.

We encourage the teachers take a step back and look objectively at what the school district has offered. We believe that they will see that it is — in fact — a fair offer.

The current offer includes:

• Salary: Two percent that equates to a 4.72 percent increase to the overall salary schedule in year one (at this time it does include full back pay), and 2 percent that equates to a 4.7 percent increase to the overall salary schedule in year two. A master+ 40 teacher would make $81,203 in salary alone.

• Add $1,000 to the retirement pay. So $53,000 now becomes $54,000.

• Allow Title I teachers to be able to move the Class V (BA + 20 or BS +20) for credits earned after Sept. 1, 2017 (move to a higher pay grade and scale)

• Remove step O from the salary schedule. So step 1 now becomes step 0-1. (New teachers start at a higher salary). Example would be a new teacher to the district with a master’s degree and no teaching experience would go from $46,042 to a starting salary of $48,504.

• The district agreed to extend three Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs) for another contract period.

• The district would like to add a MOU that states a committee will be formed to explore start and end times, work day and work year.

• Proposed to leave health insurance as in current contract. District pays 92 percent for health insurance premiums for single plans and 92 percent plus 75 percent for family plans. There also is a $55 fee per month that is paid by the employee.

Compensation comparisons from the Minnesota School Board Association (MSBA):

For contracts settled already in the state, and schools with 105 to 205 teachers. Hibbing ISD 701 has about 153.4 teachers

• Increase per full-time teacher (FTE) —

2017-18 2018-19

Average $3,206 $3,196

Range $1,885 to $4,578 $1,838 to $5,554

Hibbing proposal $4,494 per teacher FTE $4,701 per FTE

• Total package compensation —

2018-2019

Average $83,945

Range $75,535 to $106,397

Hibbing proposal $104,375 for 181 (7 hour) work days

As you can see, our proposal is financially competent and well above average. We are proud to be able to pay our teachers well and keep them near the top in the state.

We are also proud that a full-time teacher who tops out the pay schedule can make $81,203 in salary alone by 2018. That does not include any extra duty or coaching.

With competitive benefits that are also included in our master contract, we hope to attract quality professional educators to our region. We have a strong retirement benefit for staff and also allow them to retire at 55 with 10 years of service if they choose.

Brad Johnson,

Hibbing Schools superintendent

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