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Board approves contract with teachers

BEMIDJI -- Bemidji School District educators can expect an increase in pay that amounts to about $5,400 per full-time teacher over the next two years.

Jordan Hickman, director of human resources for the district, outlined the raises at the Bemidji School Board's meeting Monday night. The additional pay comes as a result of increased education funding passed during the last legislative session. For the 2013-2014 school year, full-time teachers will receive a .75 percent increase in pay. During the 2014-2015 school year, the increase will more than double to 3.6 percent, at a total cost of $2.5 million in state funds, Hickman said.

At the end of the two-year period, teachers with the longest amount of time served will make about $69,000 per year, Hickman said.

The contract was unanimously approved.

School Board member Bill Faver said contract negotiations between the two sides are normally arduous but that wasn't the case this year.

"I don't think we've ended (negotiations) this early in at least 20 years," he said. "In the past, you end up in sort of an adversarial relationship where there's a winner and a loser."

Faver said this year's negotiation was different.

"Instead of proposal, counter-proposal, we started thinking about areas where we had mutual interest," he said. "For example, we have a mutual interest in reducing teachers' use of sick time.

"Rather than trying to do that as a (part of a) contract, we're going to work together as a team over the next couple of years, because the mutual belief is that teachers in the classroom are preferred to substitute teachers."

Justin Glawe
Reporting on crime, courts and Beltrami county government. Follow me on Twitter @JustinGlawe.
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