Negotiation teams for the Pequot Lakes School Board and Education Minnesota Pequot Lakes (EMPL) are scheduled to meet at the table again to discuss teacher contracts Monday, May 12.
The negotiation will mark the second time in as many months the groups have met, after not meeting directly since late summer 2013. The groups also negotiated in November 2013 via state mediation services.
Chris Williams, press secretary for Education Minnesota, reports that as of May 2, 14 percent of the 331 school districts the union tracks had yet to settle teacher contracts. The average salary increase statewide for teachers is 2 percent in the first year and 2 percent in the second year of the two-year contracts. These increases are independent of “steps and lanes,” or the salary increases built in to contracts based upon experience and training.
The Pine River-Backus (PR-B) School Board and teachers’ union officially ended negotiations with unanimous approval of a new contract by the board April 21. Their agreement included a 1 percent increase for 2013-14 and a 2.75 percent increase for 2014-15. These increases will not be applied to teachers in steps 14 and 15 because of the large salary increase they will already receive.
Until an agreement is reached between the Pequot Lakes board and union, the teachers are effectively bound to their previous contract, which expired in June 2013. If salary increases are included in the new contract, they would be applied retroactively through the beginning of the 2013-14 school year.
EMPL has recently ramped up efforts to pressure the board to reach a settlement. More than 80 people attended the board’s April 21 meeting, many of whom were teachers sporting matching blue EMPL T-shirts and buttons that read, “Enrollment is up ... Budget is up ... Settle up!”