School board approves teacher salary schedule

Mary Bailey
Community Editor

A new two-year agreement with the Forest Lake Education Association gives teachers a 3.5 percent increase this year (2013-2014) and a 3.87 percent increase next year (2014-2015).

The contract is effective from July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2015. This year’s raise will be retroactive to July 1.

Negotiations began in May 2013 and concluded Nov. 7, when the School Board approved the contract with a unanimous vote. (Member Kathy Bystrom was absent.)

“Our teachers and staff have been held back a number of years. We said we were going to catch up when we could. I can vote for this,” Member Karen Morehead said.

Board President Rob Raphael said it was important to improve the standing of district teachers. He thanked the bargaining units for having reasonable expectations.

One district goal is to compensate teachers at a level comparable to Centennial, South Washington County, Hastings, Stillwater, White Bear Lake, Roseville and Mounds View districts.

The teachers union approved the contract earlier in November. The vote was 375 in favor and 15 opposed, with 80 percent of the members voting, and 96 percent of those voting yes.

The 3.5 and 3.87 percent average increases that teachers will receive do not take into account lane changes, which put teachers into higher salary brackets when they earn additional college credits. Including lane changes, the cost to the district for the increases in the first year of the contract is 4.0 percent for salaries plus 1.2 percent for insurance and other costs, for a total of 5.2 percent. In the second year, the district cost will be 4.3 percent for salaries plus 0.8 percent for insurance, totaling 5.1 percent increase.

The total District 831 cost for teacher salaries and benefits will be $34.42 million in 2013-2014 and $36.18 million in 2014-2015. The total last year, 2012-2013, was $32.72 million. These totals do not include Q Comp costs, which reward teachers up to $2,000 apiece in performance pay.

The contract sets the length of the school year at 187 days for teachers, including student contact days plus orientation, workshop and in-service days. New teachers report for four additional days, which in the past were at the beginning of the year. The new contract calls for three days before school starts and one during the school year.

In the first year of the previous contract, a one-time lump sum of $500 was paid to teachers at the highest salary step to mitigate the effect of a salary freeze in the 2009-2010 school year. This was removed in the current contract.

New this year is a payment of $1,000 to a teacher who obtains national board certification in a field germane to the teacher’s license. .

A teacher’s salary automatically increases each year (steps) and also increases with additional education (lanes). The charts below show the salary at each step and lane for each year of the contract.

Steps A through L represent 12 years. After year 12, longevity payments apply. Starting with year 14, the teacher receives an additional $3,750 per year. At year 16, an additional $2,700 is added each year. At year 20 another $2,500 is added each year, and at year 25 another $1,500. The total annual longevity pay beginning at year 25 is $10,450. These figures apply to both years of the contract.

New this year is a lane for teachers who have a Ph.D. or Ed.D. Currently only one teacher is in this category, but Business Director Larry Martini said the new lane will serve as an incentive to all teachers to further their education to this level.

Teachers who take on more roles receive additional pay. Department heads earn $2,784 per year and building department chairpersons earn $2,227 per year, both this year and next.

Athletic coaches this school year will receive from $2,048 (junior high assistant coach) to $6,486 (high school head coach). Coach pay will increase next year.

Jazz band directors, student council supervisors, yearbook advisers and more than 50 other student group facilitators will be paid up to $3,755 ($3,850 in year 2) for their efforts. The amount paid depends on responsibility, with assistants earning less than heads, and on student age, with elementary advisers earning less than secondary.

The pay also depends on which of five categories the activity is placed in. High school band, choir, orchestra, drumline, FFA, honor society, student council, theater, yearbook and LINK directors are in the highest-paid group. DECA and LINK both moved up two categories in the current contract.

The new Q Comp program, which will take effect in September 2014, also adds to the salary figures in the contract.

Benefits

For full-time teachers, the district covers the entire premium for single medical coverage and also contributes to dependent coverage. The district-paid amount for dependent coverage is $645 per month in Year 1 and $745 per month in Year 2.

Dental insurance premiums for teachers are paid by the district, dependent dental coverage by the employee.

Long-term disability insurance premiums are deducted from the teacher’s paycheck as after-tax dollars. The district pays for $100,000 of term life insurance for each teacher.

The district also contributes a maximum of $850 per contract year to a health care reimbursement plan for each eligible teacher.

Teachers receive 15 days of sick leave each year, which can accumulate to 285 days (if hired in 1987 or later) or 320 days (if hired before 1987). Sick leave can be used for pregnancy or for illness of a child, spouse or parent. The district buys back unused sick leave days at the substitute teacher pay rate.

Teachers also earn two to four personal leave days, depending on years of service.

The district matches teacher contributions to a 403(B) plan. After one year of service the match is $500, after six years $1,000, after 11 years $1,500, after 16 years $2,000, and after 21 years $2,500. These amounts were increased from the previous contract, which had matches ranging from $100 to $2,000.

The school district contributes 1 percent of a teacher’s base salary into a retirement health care savings account.

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