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DPS board rejects DEA petition

A petition by the Dickinson Education Association to assume the role of exclusive representative for all licensed personnel in Dickinson Public Schools remains in limbo after the DPS board rejected the proposal at its meeting Monday.

The petition, submitted almost a year ago, asked that the Dickinson School Board recognizes the Association as the negotiating unit for licensed personnel "employed, or to be employed, by the Board except the administrators, for the purpose of negotiating matters … including but not limited to salary, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment." It was signed by 135 employees from Lincoln, Berg, Prairie Rose, Jefferson and Heart River elementary schools, Hagen Junior High, and Dickinson High School.

Board member Leslie Ross moved to reject the petition, saying the board fails to recognize licensed personnel as an appropriate negotiating unit and the Association as its exclusive representative. She noted many signatures on the petition may be from retired personnel no longer employed by the district. There were several instances of duplicate signatures.

Kris Fehr, school board president, noted that saying the DEA represents "all licensed personnel is too broad."

The rejected petition will be returned to the Association, she said, and they will have the option of bringing back the item to the next meeting "if they so request."

Discussions over the petition were put on the backburner while the two parties awaited a Supreme Court decision over teacher contracts.

The court ruled last month in favor of the Association to limit the district’s ability to offer one-year

contracts. Fehr said it would have "not have been appropriate" to respond to the petition before the court ruling was made.

Fehr said the board is "disappointed in the decision" by the Supreme Court, but "we are now going to carry forward. We accept it, and we move forward."

Property tax levy increases by 3.62 percent

Also discussed at Monday’s meeting was the notice to taxpayers that the Dickinson Public School District’s property tax levy will increase by 3.62 percent over last year.

Assistant Superintendent Vince Reep said the increase in taxes is "a deceiving number," calculated using a formula outlined in Senate Bill 2036, passed in 2013.

The district will be levying 5.33 fewer mills levied than the 75.32 last year, for a total of 69.99 anticipated levies.

With increased property valuations — estimated by Dunn and Stark county auditors at more than $1.3 million, though final taxable valuation will be determined in November — the district’s anticipated 69.99 mills this school year came in over the estimated number outlined by the Senate bill.

A handout given to the public at a hearing held before the board’s regular meeting stressed that the district "is not increasing local property taxes."

No one from the public came forward with comments or questions. Reep said that last year, the first year in which the bill was in effect, the board faced a "packed room" of taxpayers after 8,000 notifications were sent out to report a property tax levy increase of 21.6 percent.

Faulx is a reporter with The Press. Contact her at 701-456-1207 or tweet her at NadyaFaulx