February 9, 2024
As of February 9th, 2024 around the state of Minnesota 197 of the 328 districts have now settled their 2023-25 contracts. Average two year salary schedule improvements are running just below 8%. Locally, here in district 834 our SCEA Negotiations team has met for multiple extended sessions with our district administrative colleagues since our last update on January 19, 2024. Our SCEA team has met individually as well to ensure thoughtful consideration of district ideas, proposals, and solutions.
We are more excited about our progress than ever! While we don’t have a new contract to bring membership today, we are confident that we will in the coming weeks. This is in large part due to timelines related to insurance contracts and approval processes, not any particular outstanding disagreement with our district administration. We can bring a tentative agreement after our insurance committee and school board has had the opportunity to evaluate the efficiencies of our insurance plans moving into the future.
We have reached tentative agreements on numerous components of our new contract that we will share below. Again, we are pleased with our progress and are confident that we can bring you an official settlement in the coming weeks. Below are items we have tentative agreements around.
Expansion of Discretionary Day MOU (Memorandum of Understanding)
Post Retirement Healthcare Savings Adjustments
Remote work options
Teacher-Directed Time on PD Days MOU
SPED Due Process Time
Annual Sick Bank Enrollment
2024 Retiree Considerations
Our team is excited about our progress and looks forward to bringing you more details of this contract soon. We are grateful for our administrative colleagues’ partnership, the support of our school board, and most importantly the SCEA’s support and understanding as we work our way through this time-intensive process.
January 19, 2024
Our negotiations team continues to meet with our district colleagues to bring a fair settlement to the SCEA. We have met with the district 5 times since the beginning of December and another 4 times as an SCEA team to plan, discuss, and think about paths forward. Conversations continue to be honest, educational, and focused on solutions. Members of the SCEA bargaining team have remained consistent throughout while our new Executive Director of Human Resources, Kristine Carlston, has joined Superintendent Funk and Executive Director of Finance Marie Schrul.
We continue to monitor settlements across the state and east metro while acknowledging the unique circumstances that drive priorities in individual districts. Our district’s low general fund balance, currently sitting at 1.5% (think of this as our district’s savings account balance) is something that we continue to learn more about from our Executive Director of Finance. Board policy and goals would advocate for a fund balance closer to 5%.
Other items we continue to talk about and prioritize include, but are not limited to:
- Longevity pay options
- Cost of living adjustments to post retirement health care
- Allocation of time on professional development days
- The flexibility to work remotely when appropriate
- Workload and well-being of staff
- Salary schedule changes
Another important topic of conversation that we have spent significant time discussing is the importance of our insurance experience. We understand this is a high priority to our members and their families. Our current language revolves around a shared responsibility of 85/15% of total premium cost. Employees currently pay 15% of the premium while our District pays 85% of the premium. We understand that uncertainty around insurance can be a stressor and continue to work towards solutions both at the negotiations table and through our insurance committee.
We recently completed two four-hour sessions and have an eight-hour negotiations meeting on our calendar with our administrative colleagues next week. Our team will continue to meet outside this space to consider creative ways to bring resolution to our outstanding items.
Our team is grateful for your patience and support!
December 15, 2023
Our negotiations team has met with our district administrative colleagues three times since our last SCEA Executive Board meeting on November 8, 2023. The SCEA negotiations team has met an additional three times outside of the bargaining space. The representatives from the district have remained consistent with the Superintendent leading the discussion, Executive Director of Finance Marie Schrul supporting conversations around the budget, and Ashley Xiong representing Human Resources. We appreciate the consistency that this team has brought to the process.
The bargaining process continues to be productive and moving in a healthy direction. We have reached tentative agreements on approximately 8 language/finance items with our work continuing to be collaborative. We continue to look around the state and recognize the unique nature of education funding this biennium. Simultaneously, we acknowledge that each district is unique and faces distinct challenges and opportunities.
We recently discussed as an SCEA team and with the Superintendent the importance of sharing additional information as this process continues to unfold. While salary schedule increases are important, other topics that we are discussing include: longevity pay for more tenured staff, post-retirement healthcare increases for younger staff who qualify (hiring date post July 1, 2006), insurance costs/burdens, and sick day buy back opportunities for all members.
Language items we have discussed have centered deeply around professional development and how time gets shared on these days. Our team has stressed the importance of both professional learning AND more time in our classrooms to work on new curriculum, plan, and collaborate with grade level/content area teams.
We have one more meeting with our district colleagues before our winter break and will be meeting the first week back in the new year to ensure continued motion toward a fair and timely settlement. We are looking to schedule extended meetings, longer than the 2-3 hours we are currently meeting each session, to bring resolution to outstanding items on our proposals.
SCEA Bargaining Team