Contract Talks Concentrate On Language Changes
At the conclusion of contract talks on Thursday, Aug. 4, mediator David Luckey for the State of Montana instructed both the Wolf Point School District and the Wolf Point Education Association to decrease some of the language disagreements prior to the next meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 10.
â€śWhen you guys come back, some of the things weâ€™ve been kicking around for six months should be removed,â€ť Luckey said. â€śLetâ€™s reduce this beast.â€ť
One piece of language that seems to be causing conflict involves the handling of nontenure teachers. The school district wants the ability to nonrenew the employment of a nontenure teacher at the conclusion of the school fiscal year with or without cause. The teachersâ€™ union has strongly opposed changing the current language.
â€śLetâ€™s get some language out that we know isnâ€™t going to work,â€ť Luckey said to school district representatives. â€śLetâ€™s cut this beast down to a workable size.â€ť
The teachersâ€™ union is seeking to increase the amount of pay for teachers who lose preparation time through request or assignment by the building principal to substitute for another teacher. The teachersâ€™ union wants the rate changed to 1/6 of the districtâ€™s substitute teacher rate rather than the current sum of $20 per class period assigned. School district representatives said they would rather put the money into the salary schedule than pay more in these instances.
The school district also opposed the proposal to allow two days for teachers to attend local association business meetings. The school district feels these meetings could be held on Fridays or during after school hours.
The parties donâ€™t appear to be much closer in agreeing on the amounts regarding salary increases. The proposal from the Wolf Point Education Association on Thursday was for the base salary to increase to $35,643 for the 2022-2023 school year and then a 4 percent increase on the base for 2023-2024 and another 4 percent increase for 2024-- 2025.
The counterproposal from the school district is that entry level moves up to step 3. Salary increases would be 3 percent the first year of the contract, 2 percent the second year and 1 percent the third year.
School officials note that Plan B remains on the table. The Plan B package proposed by the Wolf Point School District features increasing the base salary to $38,000, an increase of 15.14 percent, for the 2022-2023 school year, increasing the base salary to $39,000 for the 2023-2024 school year and increasing the base salary to $40,000 for the 2024-2025 school year. Representatives of the Wolf Point Education Association have said that the Plan B proposal, which includes a new attainment level or salary schedule, doesnâ€™t provide suitable increases for the school districtâ€™s more experienced teachers.