by Mike Knaak
The Sartell-St. Stephen school board approved on Dec. 6 its contract with the district’s 280 teachers.
Total package cost to the district for the two-year deal is 8.66 percent. The contract covers July 2019 through June 2021 and teachers will receive backpay in their paychecks that arrive before Christmas.
The settlement is in line with past contracts. According to the district, the average cost of the three previous settlements was an 8.42 percent increase. The most recent contract, for 2017-2019, cost 8.67 percent.
“This is a very positive contract,” Superintendent Jeff Schwiebert said. “We have a teacher shortage across the Midwest and we have to keep our wages competitive in the region.”
School board chair Jason Nies thanked the board’s negotiating team as well as the negotiators from Sartell Education Association.
“The teacher group was great,” he said. “The negotiations were friendly and productive.”
Financial details of the settlement include 2 percent added to the salary schedule each year.
The new contract eliminates sick day and personal leave categories and replaces them with discretionary days.
Previously, full-time employees accrued 10 sick days and four personal days a year. The new contract calls for 13 discretionary days, allowing for more flexibility.
“Discretionary leave is a big deal (for teachers),” Schwiebert said. “As more teachers come through the district, they want more flexibility in their schedule.”
The new policy is similar to what’s in place in the Sauk Rapids-Rice and St. Cloud school districts.
A contract provision calls for the days to be reduced to 12 if usage is too high.
The vote to approve was unanimous with board member Pam Raden absent.