Fairmont Area teachers ratify new contract

FAIRMONT — The Fairmont Area School District teacher contract was ratified this week. It is a two-year contract, effective for 2019-2021.

The negotiation committee was made up of several teachers who represented Education Minnesota Fairmont, and several school board members and Superintendent Joe Brown, who represented the district.

Several significant changes were made, including a pay raise each year of the contract for all teachers.

“We’re increasing everybody’s salary by $1,282 for the first year and the second year we’re increasing everyone’s salary by $1,300,” Brown said.

Brown explained that the salary schedule is a matrix made up of lanes and steps. A lane is based on the number of graduate credits teachers have and steps are based on how many years they have been teaching.

“A teacher starting right out of college with a four-year bachelor’s degree will earn $43,000 this year,” Brown said.

The top of the salary schedule is $73,960, where several teachers are, according to Brown.

“Over half of our teachers already have a master’s degree,” Brown noted.

As Brown pointed out, teachers have the opportunity to make additional money without receiving more schooling as there are ample opportunities to be a coach or adviser of a sport or activity, as the district has more than 40 different activities.

The contract also includes an increase to the coaching and activities stipend by 2.5 percent for the 2019-2020 school year and a 1.5 percent increase for the 2020-2021 school year.

Other changes include setting the prom supervision compensation at $100, and supervision compensation for events after 4 p.m. at $50.

“We’ve increased the 403(b). We encourage people to put money in savings and by doing that we match it,” Brown said.

There are 184 contract days for a teacher in the Fairmont district. While they do not receive vacation days, there are sick days.

The new contract includes an increase in the number of reimbursed unused sick days upon retirement from 75 to 100 days for teachers who have taught for 20 years.

Brown said the negotiations went fairly quickly, and the contract earned the approval of 89 percent of the 75 teachers.

The school board approved the deal at a recent meeting.

“Our contract negotiations are very professional and very positive,” Brown said. “Years ago, negotiations used to be conflicted. We really bargain in good faith. We look at the economic health of the school district and we have good enrollment. We’re very fortunate here in Fairmont. We have all the good Fs. Great finances, great facilities, great faculty and great families.”

Brown pointed out that most teachers who take teaching positions at Fairmont Area Schools generally stay.

“The total package will make us competitive within our region,” he said.