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Yellow Medicine East ratifies two-year teacher contracts

GRANITE FALLS -- Yellow Medicine East school board members on Monday ratified a contract agreement with the district's teachers.

According to Superintendent Al Stoeckman, the new contract will provide teachers with an overall increase of 2.6 percent over a two-year period, based on calculations by the Minnesota School Board Association.

The contract provides a "soft freeze'' its first year. It provides compensation increases based on steps and lanes in the contract, or a teacher's years of service and educational qualifications. It provides a "hard freeze'' the second year. No compensation increases are provided except for teachers who may qualify for a lane change due to newly acquired educational qualifications.

The district is among a handful locally that have been penalized for not having reached a contract agreement by the state-imposed deadline. The $25-per-pupil penalty could cost the district an estimated $25,000.

Stoeckman told board members that legislation is advancing at the Capitol that would forgive the penalty. The district had reached a tentative contract agreement with instructors prior to the state deadline. The instructors did not approve the contract with a two-thirds majority as required and consequently the deadline was not met.

 The contract affects 70 full-time equivalent teachers at YME schools as well as those employed through the Minnesota Valley Education Cooperative, which provides special education services.

In other business, the board approved a request by the principal of the elementary school for re-assignment to full-time classroom instructor. Stacy Hinz told the board she misses teaching and the door is open for her to return to that role. Board members also agreed to begin the search for a full-time elementary school principal.

In a related matter, the members also accepted a request by Trevor Schulte to no longer serve as staff and curriculum development director. Board members re-assigned those duties to Stoeckman. The superintendent has experience in that role and had expressed a willingness to take on the additional duties.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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