The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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October 21, 2013

Mankato teachers' pay to increase 5 percent by 2014-15

Contract agreement reached fastest in many years

MANKATO — Mankato Area Public Schools teachers will receive a 2 percent salary increase for the 2013-14 school year and a 3 percent increase the following year, which is the largest raise in years.

The School Board approved the contract agreement for the 2013-15 school years Monday night.

Robin Courrier, president of the Mankato Teachers Association, said she credits the legislature's additional education funding and the growth in the Mankato district, which continues to bring in additional per-pupil state funding.

“I was very pleased with it,” said Courrier, lead teacher at Bridges Community School. “It showed to me it was a sign of respect for the work we're doing.”

Courrier said the union and district were able to come to an agreement more quickly than any of the previous 10 or so negotiations she has taken part in. The association overwhelmingly voted to accept the contract Oct. 11.

“I think it started out hard because we really weren’t sure what money was available. Yet, this is the earliest we've ever settled,” she said.

Supt. Sheri Allen said the agreement still allows the district to maintain its 30-day fund balance reserve. She said the contract helps with the goal of “retaining our quality teachers,” and it's in line with other agreements across the state.

“I'm so thankful to our negotiations teams,” Allen said. “We started late last spring and met through the summer, and the goal was really to be able to come to an agreement and do it in a way that people are respected throughout the process.”

For comparison, the 2011-13 contract agreement was reached in late November 2011 and increased the salary schedule .5 percent in the first year and 1 percent the second year. Beforehand, wage freezes had been in effect, Courrier said. In 2009, when an agreement couldn't be reached, both sides agreed to arbitration.

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