District 16 teachers get first raise in four years

Teachers in the Spring Lake Park School District will see their salary schedule increase for the first time in four years.

The District 16 School Board unanimously approved the 2013-2015 teachers’ contract at its Sept. 10 meeting. Spring Lake Park Teachers United ratified the contract in a vote the week of Aug. 26.

A total contract of more than $26.72 million spans a two-year period from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2015.

This figure represents an almost 10 percent increase from the district’s baseline of $24,302,687, but the 2011-2013 contract totaled $25.6 million with more than $1 million of that figure one-time payments, according to Ryan Stromberg, director of human resources and organizational development for the district.

“It’s definitely better than the past,” said Scott Kranz, lead negotiator for Spring Lake Park Teachers United, of the contract in an interview after the settlement was approved. “We’re happy about that and hopeful for the future.”

“One of our goals in this year’s settlement is to become more competitive,” Stromberg said, also in an interview after the contract had been approved.

With a higher starting teacher’s salary – $37,180 for a first-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree in year one, $38,180 in year two, up from $33,800 offered the last four years – District 16 can offer compensation more on par with neighboring districts like Anoka-Hennepin, Mounds View and Fridley, Stromberg said.

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Retaining the best educators was a priority for the union, according to Kranz, so it pushed, successfully, to increase wages in the middle of the schedule.

On the highest end, teachers with the most experience, those with a master’s degree plus 60 credits on step 24 and above, will see their salary jump from $75,900 to $77,900 in the first year and to $80,100 in year two.

By not increasing the salary schedule the last four years, the district lost competitiveness, but remained structurally balanced, according to Stromberg.

Kranz said that the teachers recognize recent difficult economic times, but “we’ve been working pretty hard with not a lot shown in the pay,” he said, especially with the introduction of so much new technology in the schools.

The new agreement will “position the district to not just be effective now, but be successful in the future,” Superintendent Jeff Ronneberg said before the board took action.

Negotiations

Contract negotiations began and ended in July, earlier than most districts, according to Stromberg.

“By getting an earlier settlement, it allows administration and teachers to really focus on kids without other distractions, such as negotiating labor contracts,” Stromberg said.

He led negotiations from the district’s side, joined by Amy Schultz, director of business services; LaToiya Jefferson, human resources and talent acquisition manager; and Chairperson John Stroebel, Vice-Chairperson Colleen Vranish and Director Amy Hennen from the school board.

Eight teachers negotiated on behalf of Spring Lake Park Teachers United. With lead negotiator Kranz, Union President Jim Stern and teachers Anne Alto, Mary Barnette, Jo Behm, Mary Mohr-Scinocca, Brenda Sandberg and Wendy Trowbridge participated in negotiations.

“We decided four years ago that we don’t want this to be adversarial,” Kranz said of the negotiation process. The teachers are in tune with the district’s long-term plans, he said.

“Not every district is as forthcoming about their budget and what they envision in the future,” Kranz said. “That’s helped build a reasonable trusting relationship.”

Olivia Koester is at
olivia.koester@ecm-inc.com

 
  • R.Hill

    “By getting an earlier settlement, it allows administration and teachers to really focus on kids without other distractions, such as negotiating labor contracts,” To whom is Stromberg expecting to believe this. It was always about the money. I would like to see these people stop using the kids as a bargaining chip or a reason for “settling”

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