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Willmar School Board, teachers approve contract agreement

WILLMAR -- Teachers and the Willmar School Board have reached agreement on a contract for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school year. The School Board approved the agreement at a special meeting Wednesday morning. Education Minnesota Willmar has also vo...

Erica Dischino / Tribune
Tribune file photo

WILLMAR - Teachers and the Willmar School Board have reached agreement on a contract for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school year.

The School Board approved the agreement at a special meeting Wednesday morning. Education Minnesota Willmar has also voted to adopt the agreement.

The agreement includes a 2 percent increase for staff members with bachelor's degrees and increases based on education and experience in the first year and a 2 percent increase for all in the second year.

The teacher salary schedule is a grid allowing for pay increases in steps based on experience. Teachers who earn additional college credits can move across the grid to new lanes as they earn additional college credits toward master's degrees or beyond.

The total cost to the district of salaries and benefits is 8 percent, including increases in salaries and employer contributions to benefits, along with other effects from changes in contract language.

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The total cost of changes in the contract for the district's roughly 350 teachers will cost $2.3 million. The 2019-20 budget approved earlier this week lists salaries and benefits for the entire district at nearly $45 million.

Human Resources Director Liz Fischer said the groups used interest-based bargaining, which is based on shared interests and differs from traditional bargaining practices.

In the past, the district and EMW would sometimes settle contracts near the end of a two-year contract period. This year, all the district's contracts have been settled before the beginning of the fiscal year.

Fischer said she couldn't recall having all contracts in place before the end of the fiscal year on July 1.

In other business at the meeting, board members reported on their semiannual evaluation of Superintendent Jeff Holm's job performance. Board Vice Chairman Justin Bos said the board had called Holm's overall performance "accomplished" and said he has made satisfactory progress on his annual goals.

The report listed communications skills and leadership as his strengths. The implementation of a new crisis communications system was called an ongoing challenge.

In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: lvanderwerf@wctrib.com or phone 320-214-4340
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