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NLS board approves master agreement, certifies tax levy

NEW LONDON -- The New London-Spicer School Board unanimously approved the district's master agreement with its teachers union and certified the local tax levy for the 2010-2011 school year at the regular meeting Monday.

The two-year union agreement, approved on a 89-22 vote by the district's teachers, includes a 3.95 percent increase, slightly less than the state average increase of 4.1 percent, according to board member Holli Cogelow-Ruter, one of the district's representatives in the negotiations with Education Minnesota New London-Spicer. The agreement includes the same salary schedule for the 2009-2010 year, with a $500 increase for those at the top of the pay scale, and one less instructional day and a 1 percent salary increase for the 2010-11 school year and one less instructional day.

The decreases in instructional time means 184 student contact days in 2009-2010 and 183 contact days in 2010-11. Su-perintendent Paul Carlson noted that the added nine days of instructional time during the 2008-09 sc-hool year by lengthening the school day.

The agreement means the district and union avoid mediation and the Jan. 15 deadline, when penalties being to be imposed on districts that haven't made agreements with their teachers. Board chairman Robert Moller, who also negotiated the contract, said he was pleased that the deal was finished on time. "We work with limited dollars these days," he said. "I believe we've done a good job."

The $3,893,578.87 levy, approved unanimously by the board, is the maximum possible levy, according to district business manager Barb Gjerde. The levy is for 2009 payable 2010 taxes.

The levy is a 17.8 percent increase is due largely to the $200 per pupil levy referendum passed by district voters last fall. The additional voter-approved funding will add $211,227 to the district's general fund.

The other key reason the levy is increasing is the district's other post-employment benefits bonding. The first payment of $224,070 on the $2.4 million in bonds sold earlier this fall by the district to fund retirement benefits required by previous union contacts.

The board also:

- Approved a trip opportunity for eighth-grade students to visit Washington, D.C. on June 8 to 11, 2010.

- Completed the first reading of the district's investment policy, which is being updated to include policy on investing the district's OPEB bonding funds.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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