Duluth school board approves two teacher contracts through 2017

By KBJR News 1

May 6, 2014 Updated May 6, 2014 at 10:04 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- The Duluth School Board approved two teacher contracts Tuesday night at a special school board meeting that will incorporate pay raises over time.

The contracts add time to the school year and provide an opportunity for further discussion regarding strategies to support student achievement.

Superintendent Bill Gronseth says the additional instructional time will greatly benefit Northland students.

The two contracts are for 2013-2015, and 2015-2017.

The first contract doesn't include any raises this year, but incorporates a 3% raise next year, partially for time added to the school year.

The contract calls for an additional nine minutes of school time at Denfeld and East high schools beginning next year.

The second contract includes a 2% raise each year thereafter.

But while the majority of school board members showed full support in backing the contracts, others showed concern over what could come.

"We are looking at about a $13-14,000,000 dollar deficit in about three years time and I pray we can figure out how to do something to prevent that from happening because if it materializes we will be laying off more teachers and putting more kids in classrooms," said school board member Harry Welty.

"Some larger districts in our region, across our state, actually settled with 5-8% increases in their teachers salary, and I think that taking a measured zero, two with a 1% bump for those additional hours sets a course that we can plan our fiscal future," said school board member Annie Harala.

The contract will also help manage health insurance costs by raising the threshold for coverage and maintaining health reimbursement account contributions at current levels.

Although some school board members showed frustration with the approval, overall board members say it is a great thing.

The board approved the two contracts in a five to two vote, and those in support say there is no better way to show support and appreciation for our teachers than to give them back what they put into the community.

Elsa Robins