June 18, 2009

Washburn school staff to see salaries increased

By Adam Thomas, BHG News Service

In the eternal power struggle between employee and employer, there are few battles more contentious than the contract negotiation. Representatives from both sides lock into back and forth financial combat using industry averages and end-of-year budget numbers as their weapons of choice. The victor is often decided only after intense and statistic filled strife. Things seemed to work a little different when it came to this year’s negotiations between the Washburn School and its employees. "I was pleasantly surprised and thought that the WEA (Washburn Education Association) representatives were very good to work with and it was a pleasant process to go through," said school board member Arik Spencer of the negotiations, "we reached a consensus in all areas." Prior to going into the agreements, Spencer spoke briefly about the financial situation. "Over the next two years we’re looking at receiving about $92,000 in new money for the district and 70 percent of that needs to be spent on the certified staff." The major changes agreed upon in the WEA negotiated agreement included: paying 100% of a single health insurance premium; an increase to the base salary in the second year of the negotiated contract by about three percent, adding golf and cross-country to the list of co-curricular activities; payment of teachers for inside noon duties; a change of employee benefits to a pro-rated basis; and an agreement by the school board to look into policy changes regarding combination classroom issues. WEA representative Trevor Sinclair added, "The process did go very smooth and the only real hang-up was finding a time for everyone to meet." He also mentioned that he was appreciative of the gestures made by the school board to continue to look into the WEA’s concerns. Outside of the WEA agreement, a number of other salary decisions were passed by the board. - The Principal positions, occupied by Holly Becker and Glen Weinmann, requested a salary increase of three percent for both the first and second years of their contract. School board member Shelly Charging questioned the sustainability of this type of pay increase for these positions to which Spencer suggested that they would be hard-pressed not to give raises until the financial situation justified it.

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