BEMIDJI -- The administration of Bemidji Area Schools came to an agreement on Monday with the Bemidji Education Association on compensation for teachers the next two years.
School Board members Jeff Haack, John Gonzalez, Sarah Young and Carol Johnson voted in favor of the agreement. Board members Ann Long Voelkner and Jeff Lind were unable to vote on the motion due to conflicts of interest.
Documents provided to the Bemidji School Board show that the pay schedule for the current year will increase 2.75 percent from last year. The pay schedule for the 2020-21 year will then increase by 2 percent over the current year. The extra-curricular salary schedule increased by the same percentages.
The total cost of the agreement between the district and the union will represent approximately $3.26 million. The average projected cost of the agreement per full time teacher is $5,791.
“The district has always maintained that fair compensation within our means is an important bargaining principle,” Jordan Hickman, director of human resources for the district, said on Monday.
“To ensure our ability to attract and retain quality staff, the district is committed to providing the best possible compensation for our employees within the means available.”
Though some of the changes simply updated existing numbers or language, there were also new additions to the agreement that will benefit some teachers.
One of those additions is the fact that teachers now can receive a reimbursement of up to $400 for glasses, contacts or hearing aids if they were broken or lost because of an interaction with a student. Similarly, a teacher can receive a reimbursement of up to $250 for clothing that was damaged because of an interaction with a student.
Also, some teachers will now be qualified to receive a stipend on top of their base salary. New language in the agreement between the district and the union says that a teacher who “attains, maintains or utilizes” his or her license in the role of school psychologist, occupational therapist, licensed school nurse, or speech language pathologist is eligible for $1,200 a year on top of their base salary.