A special Redwood Area Board of Education meeting was held Tuesday morning to discuss the proposed contract between the district and Education Minnesota - Redwood Falls, the local teachers union.
The two-year contract, which was unanimously approved by the school board, is for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years.
The contract in-cludes an increase of just under 3 percent in the first year, with the same amount for the second year of the two-year agreement.
Prior to the board meeting, the teachers voted to ratify the contract with 76 voting in favor of the proposal and six voting against.
Kyle Hicks, Educa-tion Minnesota - Red-wood Falls president called the vote an overwhelming show of support for the contract and those who negotiated the agreement.
Representatives of the school board negotiations committee met with union leaders over the summer to work out the deal, and Hicks said there were five meetings held to go over the contract language and its finances.
The district and teachers union voted to eliminate the standard salary schedule when it ratified its previous two-year deal, and as a result teachers who are part of the district each receive a $1,300 salary increase as part of the new deal for each year, with an added $200 increase for health insurance.
According to Jim Buckley, school board chair and member of the board’s negotiations committee, the meetings between the two groups were very productive from the beginning, as the two sides understood what was available in the district budget.
“The whole process was very easy,” said Buckley, adding the whole tone of the discussions was positive.
Hicks reiterated that sentiment.
“The working relationship we had during the meetings was great,” said Hicks, adding he could not have asked for a better process.
Hicks added he is glad to have the contract done at the beginning of the two-year process, adding now it does not become a distraction and everyone involved can get to work doing the job of educating kids.
The total projected teaching staff salary for the 2013-14 school year is $5,557,861, with a total of $5,741,924 in the second year.
An additional $100 was added to all of the extra-curricular salaries under the new contract.
Buckley said the agreement is going to mean a tight budget but, he added, that has been the case in other years, too.
The district is looking to have just more than $27,000 in expenditures over revenue in the first year of the contract, but in the second year the amount is projected to increase to show $9,895 in the black. The district has maintained a goal to keep a fund balance of 14 percent of its total budget, which Rick Ellingworth, RASD superintendent, said is approximately $1.5 million. With a current fund balance exceeding $1.8 million, the district is in good shape to cover the increase in the first year.
Page 2 of 2 - Negotiations with other school groups now are going to be held with a 3 percent increase expected.