The Redwood Area Board of Education held a special meeting Sept. 4 to discuss a new two-year contract between the Redwood Area School District and Education Minnesota - Redwood Falls.

The school board’s negotiations committee met with representatives of the local teachers union three times to discuss a new agreement for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years, and at the conclusion of its July 15, 2019 meeting a tentative deal had been reached.

That proposed agreement was presented to the teachers union in late August and a ratification vote was held Aug. 29 with the teachers approving the agreement by a vote of 66 to four. The board then approved the agreement with members Tony Miller and Tim Joyce abstaining.

The school district has just over 100 full-time equivalent (FTE) educators on the staff.

In the first year of the contract, the agreement includes a 4.27 percent increase, which adds $289,012 to the total cost of the package for the educators bringing that to $7,056,790.

In the second year, the contract includes a 3.34 percent increase, or $235,902 with a total cost for 2020-21 of $7,292,692.

The total two-year increase is 7.61 percent, which adds $524,914 to the total package.

Jim Buckley, school board member, who was on the negotiations committee said the increase under the two-year contract will help keep the Redwood Area School District competitive. In a time when teacher shortages continue to be an issue that becomes extremely important. The new base salary starting with the 2019-20 school year is $43,200.

Also under the new agreement a career increment incentive has been added. As part of the agreement, any teacher who has completed seven years of teaching in the school district prior to the 2019-20 school year who begins their eighth year in the district will be eligible for a career increment adjustment to the base salary of $6,000. The agreement also includes a $12,000 increment increase for any teacher who has completed 15 years of teaching prior to the 2019-20 school year.

In addition, the school board met Aug. 26 and took action on the following items:

• Approved the transportation agreement between the Redwood Area School District and Thielen Bus Lines. The agreement includes a 2 percent increase for the 2019-20 school year with a total base contract of $730,641.71.

• Approved the designation of Clark Grannes, Andy Ourada and Paul Berggren as the school’s representatives to the Minnesota State High School League.

• Approved a request for early dismissal for the 2019-20 senior class, with those students who have met their academic requirements to be excused from mandatory attendance in school June 1-2.

• Accepted the resignations of Aaron Guggisberg from his role as varsity softball coach, Lindsey Raker as a high-school paraprofessional, Holly Larsen from her role as an early childhood special education paraprofessional and Heather Vranicar from her role as the middle-school student council advisor.

• Approved the employment of Heather Vranicar as senior-class advisor at a stipend of $1,085.

• Approved the employment of Shelby Helgeson as a Reede Gray special education paraprofessional at a rate of $14 per hour, Tianna Arredondo as a Reede Gray special education paraprofessional at a rate of $14 per hour, Laurie Ourada as a Reede Gray Special education paraprofessional at a rate of $14 per hour, Deb Frericks as an early childhood special education paraprofessional at a rate of $14 per hour, Lindy Kaden as an early childhood family education parent educator at a rate of $28.53 per hour and Jessica Meyer as a high-school special education paraprofessional at a rate of $14 per hour.

• Approved the employment of Ryan Dixon as a .3170 FTE high-school Dakota language teacher at a salary of $13,694.

• Approved the employment of Whitney Windschitl as a BPA/ school store co-advisor with a stipend of $988 and Terry Greenslit as a BPA/school store co-advisor with a stipend of $1,482.

• Approved the employment of teacher induction mentors for the 2019-20 year, including: Molly Miller, Bret Bergeson, Emily Swanson, Katlin LeClaire, Corrie Tews, Kari Scheffler, Angela Curry, Jessica Austin, Bob Kaupang, Mary Buyck, Kate Russell, Megan Argetsinger and Whitney Windschitl with a stipend of $750.

• Approved a request for severance pay for Rita Fasching in the amount of $25,602.75

• Approved a request for additional compensation for teachers in hard to fill positions, including: $8,000 for Marshall Hegg, industrial tech and Project Lead the Way teacher, $8,000 for Kari Scheffler, school psychologist, $4,000 for Nancy Rebstock, vision impaired teacher and $2,700 for Jessica Austin, speech language therapist.