Updated: 05/06/2014 10:15 PM
Created: 05/06/2014 9:33 PM WDIO.com
At a special meeting Tuesday night the Duluth School Board approved a raise for teachers in the district in coming years.
The board approved two contracts that stretch from the current school year to the 2016-2017 school year. The first contract calls for no salary change during the current school year, but a 2 percent salary increase next year with an additional 1 percent salary increase for additional student time.
The contract calls for nine minutes of additional student time at the high schools and three more contact days for all grades.
The second contract approves a two percent salary increase for teachers in the 2015-2016 school year and another two percent salary increase in the 2016-2017 school year.
The salary bumps amount to nearly a $3.4 million increase by 2017.
Those increases are less than what other districts in the state have approved for teachers according to member Annie Harala.
“Also did research and saw some larger districts in our region and across our state actually settled with five to eight percent increases in their teacher salary and I think that taking a measured zero, two with a one percent bump for those additional hours and then two and two for the coming years sets a course that we can plan our fiscal future,” Harala said.
Members Art Johnston and Harry Welty opposed the contracts saying they feared the increases could limit the district's ability to reduce class sizes moving forward.
“I can say that if the contract does pass tonight the chief focus of this school board, if it really does want to keep class sizes down, is to figure out what we can do to our budget to make sure that we don't find ourselves $15 million dollars in debt or deficit four years from now,” Welty said.
District administrators said the deficit projection mentioned by Johnston and Welty was based on a worst-case scenario and only one of several projections used in the board's evaluation process.
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