Superintendent: New District 10 contract fair to teachers, community

The new four-year contract in Itasca Elementary District 10 reflects a desire to recognize the quality of the teaching staff while remaining fiscally responsible to the community, Superintendent Craig Benes said Friday.

The pact, reached with the help of a federal mediator, will provide annual raises averaging 4.2% over the next four years for the district's roughly 70 full-time teachers. Benes said the agreement will keep Itasca salaries competitive with other elementary districts feeding into Lake Park High School without the need to boost taxes.

"This is not being done on the back of taxpayers," he said.

The contract, retroactive to August, calls for pay increases of 4.35% this year and 5% next year. In the third and fourth years of the pact, teachers with 20 years and less experience will get slightly higher percentage increases than more veteran teachers: 4.25% in 2021-22 and 3.5% in 2022-23 compared to 3.85% and 3.25% for those with 21 years or more experience.

A beginning teacher with a bachelor's degree currently is paid $41,675 a year. That number will increase to $45,539 by the end of the contract.

A beginning teacher with a master's degree currently is paid $45,539 and that number will increase to $47,755 in the last year of the agreement.

The two sides had been at the bargaining table since February, Benes said, and had been working with a mediator since June. The teachers union ratified the agreement on Oct. 24 and the school board unanimously approved it Oct. 30.

Among other things, the pact adds roughly 45 minutes to the school day at both Benson Primary and Franzen Intermediate schools starting with the 2020-2021 school year. Class time at both schools now will total about 6 hours and 50 minutes. Daily school time at Peacock Middle School will remain at 7 hours.

The contract also calls for an increased tuition reimbursement pool for teachers to continue advanced studies and a new post-retirement benefit for long-term service to Itasca, with no adverse impact to district pension liability.

District 10 serves 1,001 students.

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