June 12, 2009

School, board at impasse on teacher pay schedules

School, board at impasse on teacher pay schedules
By Jill Denning Gackle
Marc Bluestone is frustrated.
The New Town superintendent is unable to issue teacher contracts because the board and the teachers can’t agree on a pay schedule for the coming school year.
Bluestone said the board wants to raise the base salary from $28,250 to $30,700 while teachers want to keep it at $30,000. Teachers, he said, want a guarantee of a $2,500 raise every year, whereas the board wants to give a $2,500 raise this year but won’t promise the same every year.
The board also approved buying teachers lunch once a week and agreed to pick up the 10-12 percent increase in the cost of insurance benefits.
Bluestone said it’s important to boost the base to $30,700 because of the amount that surrounding schools are paying starting teachers.
“We have to stay up with the Joneses,” he said.
Since the board and the teachers can’t agree, the district enters impasse. Both sides will send letters to the North Dakota Fact Finding Commission and a meeting will take place the week of June 22 or June 29, Bluestone said. He said he doesn’t expect contracts to be issued before Aug. 10.
“It’s unfortunate for us all the way around. I’m disappointed,” he said.
This is the first time the district has been in impasse in three years, according to Bluestone.
The board met June 4 to conduct other business. It:
Agreed to ask Tioga to co-op with the district in baseball. New Town had 11 youth out this year and finished the year with nine. Two parents and community members voiced strong support for a co-op.
Approved the issuing of four new teacher contracts: Michael Tyler, high school math; Tom Needham, middle school careers and business; Michael Montgomery, high school social studies; Warren Weyrauch, middle/high school physical education.

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