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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Board approves raises for teachers, health staff

David Colburn
Posted 4/24/24

VIRGINIA- The St. Louis County School Board ratified labor contracts for teachers and health assistants at Tuesday’s regular meeting, agreements that include wage increases as the district …

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Board approves raises for teachers, health staff


VIRGINIA- The St. Louis County School Board ratified labor contracts for teachers and health assistants at Tuesday’s regular meeting, agreements that include wage increases as the district faces a difficult budget year for 2024-25.
Both groups had entered the current academic year under previous contract agreements as negotiators proceeded to craft new ones. The teachers’ agreement is a two-year deal from July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2025, while the agreement for health assistants runs through June 30, 2026.
Under the district’s agreement with Education Minnesota Local 1406, the minimum pay for a bachelor-degreed teacher with no additional credits will go from $47,703 in 2022-23 to $49,134 for the current year, a three-percent increase. In the second year of the contract, 2024-25, that salary will rise again to $50,608, another three percent increase.
Elementary school teachers assigned to teach two grades of students during a single class period will receive prorated compensation of up to $2,250 per year based on the number of hours the assignment is for.
Activity director and coaching stipends will remain the same, with head coaches for football, basketball, volleyball, swimming, softball and baseball receiving $5,438 and those for track, golf, cross-country, speech, First robotics, and one-act play receiving $4,383. Pay for extra-curricular activity sponsors/advisors in most cases increased slightly, ranging from $2,604 for pep band on the top end down to $295 for color guard director.
Health assistants, represented by Teamsters General Local Union No. 346, will see a bump in their hourly wages from a minimum rate of $16.47 in the prior two-year contract to $19.88 for 2023-24. The nearly 20-percent increase reflects both the lack of any raise in 2022-23 and the need to be competitive against other potential employers in recruiting and retaining employees. The rate on the top end of the salary matrix, step five, is $21.53. The base rate will increase by $.20 per hour in 2024-25 and $.30 per hour in 2025-26, an increase across the term of the contract of about two-and-a-half percent.
The board also approved the revised 2023-24 budget and projected 2024-25 budget as reviewed at length in an April 9 working session and reported in the April 12 edition of the Timberjay. Decreases in student enrollment have resulted in a decrease in state aid flowing to the district, and while the board has already trimmed ten full-time teaching positions for next year, district finance director Kim Johnson projects that the anticipated shortfall will put the district into statutory operating debt, requiring the district to file a plan with the state Department of Education to remedy the deficit.
“We have a lot of work to do to try to figure out how we are going to, in the long run, eliminate our SOD problem and get back on track with limited enrollment and funding options,” Johnson told the board at the working session.
In other business, the board:
• Received a brief report from Superintendent Reggie Engebritson.
• Heard a report on activities and programs at Northeast Range from Principal John Vukmanich.
• Received a $7,352.89 gift from the North Woods PTO presented by Emily Koch for an elementary field trip fund for the school.
• Approved a professional services contract with Range Mental Health for 2024-25.
• Approved a five-year clinical experience teaching affiliation agreement with the University of Minnesota.
• Hired Miranda King as a paraprofessional at NER.
• Hired Jennifer Burnett as assistant track coach at North Woods.
• Hired Ella Smith as a Little Grizzlies Student Helper at North Woods.
• Accepted the retirement of North Woods teacher and district Q Comp coordinator Kim Jirik.
• Accepted the resignation of North Woods van driver Alicia Bisbee.