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Dickinson teachers' negotiations reach tentative conclusion

After a meeting that ran nearly an hour over its time limit, the latest round of teacher negotiations reached a tentative conclusion Monday night. Dickinson Education Association President Lyle Smith said the teachers' bargaining group was "pleas...

After a meeting that ran nearly an hour over its time limit, the latest round of teacher negotiations reached a tentative conclusion Monday night.

Dickinson Education Association President Lyle Smith said the teachers' bargaining group was "pleased with the outcome" and could possibly ratify the negotiated contract for the 2016-17 school year by May 10. Smith said the teachers felt like they "conceded a lot" in the course of the negotiations, but were ultimately glad to bring things to a close.

Representatives from the DEA and the Dickinson Public Schools board reached early agreements in the Monday night meeting on a set of items that included an average teacher salary of about 3.6 percent.

Kris Fehr, DPS board vice president, said the raise alone would account for more than $886,000 in district funds. With the increase, a first-year teacher would make a little more than $44,700, which Fehr described as "still up there where we want to be."

Along with the salary increase, negotiators agreed to raise the graduated personal leave from two days of paid leave to three days for staff members with 11 or more years in the district. A sunset clause of four years was attached to the personal leave item to allow for later analysis and discussion.

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The tentative agreements reached Monday will join earlier agreements addressing language cleanup, recruitment of qualified and experienced teachers and definitional items.

Negotiators arrived at their most recent finish after making a series of proposals and counter-proposals and recessing multiple times to discuss terms.

Jim Fahy, Dickinson High School teacher and a DEA negotiator, said he believed the final tentative agreement could be taken to vote by the teachers' group.

Smith said the DEA will meet at 4 p.m. Tuesday to discuss the negotiated agreement. If a positive vote is garnered at that meeting, the DEA would allow one week to pass before officially ratifying, as per its bylaws.

If the contract is approved on the expedited timeline, the document could be distributed to district teachers before the end of the current school year, a scenario DPS Assistant Superintendent Vince Reep described as "so much easier" to handle than in an out-of-school period.

Though the target date for completion of the negotiations was set for May 6, a day that would not be reached even if the DEA votes favorably on Wednesday, Fehr said it's still "a great feeling" to have the tentative agreement made.

"It was difficult, but I do appreciate that the DEA understood we had some constraints and we were able to have that give-and-take at this table tonight," she said.

Fehr also praised Sarah Ricks, DPS board president, for her extensive role in the negotiation session and the work she'd done throughout.

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The DPS board will hold a meeting Monday to hold a vote on the contract following the action of the DEA.

Related Topics: DICKINSONEDUCATIONDICKINSON PUBLIC SCHOOLS
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