Spring Lake Park Teachers United was able to ratify a new contract before summer break started.
The School Board unanimously approved the contract at its June 13 meeting. School Board Member Jim Amundson was absent for the vote.
Spring Lake Park Schools is one of the first districts in the metro to come to an agreement with its teachers union.
It took three meetings to come to an agreement. Negotiators brought ideas to the first meeting and made compromises in the meetings that followed.
Julie Seiler, union president, called the negotiation process “productive and respectful.”
In recent years, the district and union have worked in partnership, Seiler and Ryan Stromberg, director of human resources and organizational development, agree.
The key has been “building a really professional relationship … [and] knowing where we are, knowing where we need to go with retaining teachers and making sure that we have an attractive contract,” Stromberg said.
The new contract, which runs from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2019, represents an 8 percent increase from the base of $28.09 million. Terms see the contract exceed $30 million for the first time with a $30.33 million package.
Eliminating a lane and shifting salary amounts will allow new teachers to take home 3.8 percent more by the end of the next two years – $41,780. New teachers earned $40,180 in 2016-2017.
Steps were removed, and through that process, teachers at the top of the schedule with a master’s degree and 60 additional credits will earn an additional $2,000 each year of the contract, ending at $85,100.
“Every teacher over two years will see and increase to their compensation,” Stromberg said.
“It offers a competitive compensation package for teachers,” according to Seiler, who believes the contract will assist the district in attracting and retaining quality educators, she said.
Negotiators for the district included Amundson and Amy Hennen, both serving on the School Board; Human Resources and Talent Acquisitions Manager LaToiya Jefferson; Director of Business Services Amy Schultz; Board Chairperson John Stroebel; and Stromberg.
Union negotiations were led by Mary Mohr-Scinooca, who was joined at the table by Erik Hendrickson, Amy Nordlund, Molly Meier, Barb Saunders, Bob Schneider and Seiler.