FL teachers will vote May 24 on new two-year contract

If approved by FLEA, school board could ratify at its May 31st meeting

Cliff Buchan
News Editor

Teachers in Forest Lake could have a new contract in hand soon. All that stands in the way is a vote by the members of the Forest Lake Education Association and ratification of the two-year pact by the ISD 831 School Board.

The teacher vote will come on Thursday, May 24, said FLEA President Tony Harris this week.

Tentative agreement between FLEA and the district was reached following a 15-hour bargaining session with the state Bureau of Mediation Services in St. Paul on Tuesday, May 1. The agreement covers the current school year and the 2012-2013 school year. Teachers are currently working under the terms of the old contract.

If the FLEA membership votes to approve the tentative agreement, it will go to the school board for a ratification vote on Thursday, May 31, the board’s June meeting date, said Superintendent Linda Madsen.

Harris described the settlement proposal as a “fair, equitable accord that will allow the school district to attract and retain high quality teachers so we can continue to provide an outstanding education to all District 831 students.”

Madsen declined comment on the tentative agreement until after FLEA’s membership vote is finalized and the contract can come before the school board.

The Proposal

Teachers can expect to see some new dollars in the form of compensation plus additional district contribution for family health coverage in the second year of the agreement.

In the first year of the agreement, teachers will be granted lanes and step increases, but the steps including longevity are retroactive to only the mid-point of the school year.

Teachers currently on step 12 will receive a lump sum $500 payment.

More changes are part of the second year of the proposed contract.

Steps and lanes remain active, but with a change. The new contract eliminates step one and creates a new step 13 by adding $1000 to the amount listed on the current step 12. The change means a 12-step schedule will be maintained.

The new deal also adds $750 to longevity year 14. The payment is just for teachers who have worked in the district for 14 years or longer.

Health care increases include $75 added to family coverage in the second year due to an expected increase in the premium rates. In the first year, however, there is no increase due to no increase in premium cost to the district.

The proposed agreement involves 467 FLEA members and addresses 429 full-time equivalents who fill teaching roles.

The new contract also rolls in two other labor groups who have previously been outside FLEA’s representation. The new contract will also impact Early Childhood Family Education teachers and teachers in the Adult Basic Education program.

Harris said the two groups include 25 to 30 teachers. In the prior two-year contract, FLEA and the district approved a memorandum of understanding that would allow the two groups to become part of FLEA in the new contract period.

In the contract under which teachers are now working, no salary schedule improvement was bargained. Teacher salaries were frozen in the 2009-2010 school year and staff members did not receive step and lane gains.

Teachers did get step and lane advancements in the 2010-2011 year and medical insurance increases over the contract to match premium increases.