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Friday, October 3rd, 2008

Tentative contract agreement reached

Both sides look to ratify deal during Wednesday meeting

By Margie Wuebker
Minster Local Schools board of education and the Minster Teachers Association reached a tentative agreement on a new contract Thursday night during a lengthy negotiating session at the high school.
Both sides sat down at 4:30 p.m. to resume talks on the contract, which expired June 30. The tentative agreement came hours later with team members leaving around 10 p.m.
"Neither side can divulge any details at this point," Superintendent Gayl Ray said this morning. "Formal action is expected during a special board meeting at 8 p.m. Wednesday."
State laws prohibit the release of details during the negotiations. However, earlier reports indicated discussions centered on salary increases, insurance considerations and contract duration.
Negotiations between representatives of the board and the teachers association commenced March 3, nearly four months before the June 30 expiration date. A federal mediator was brought in during an Aug. 14 negotiating session with no agreement reached at that time.
More than 120 people attended a Sept. 22 school board meeting to voice support for local teachers and to listen as the board unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding extending the teachers' contract to Oct. 31.
Board member Dale Sherman provided information at the meeting showing teachers received raises of 4.89 percent in 2003, 5.14 percent in 2004, 5.41 percent in 2005, 1.27 in 2006 and 0.94 percent in 2007 for an average of 3.53 percent.
Teachers quickly responded the previous contract carried no pay raises in either 2006 and 2007, stating they approved the pact in good faith with assurances their cooperation would be remembered. They indicated the raises Sherman provided included step raises, which only 60 percent of the district's 58 teachers received. Teachers last received raises under the 2003 contract with increases ranging from 3 to 3.65 percent.
Sherman said administrators, who are not eligible for step raises, received 3.3 percent in 2003, 3.55 percent in 2004, nothing in 2005 and 2006 and 3.65 percent in 2007 for a 2.1 percent average. When questioned about stipends the administrative staff received during their two-year salary freeze, he explained the figures were not included because they varied from one person to another. The comment drew raised eyebrows and laughter.
He told the audience there are no extra funds available for pay raises, adding "We value our teachers. But our offer is based on all factors including the current financial outlook and the state of the economy."
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