South Washington County Schools Prepares for a New Round of Mediation With UTSWC

South Washington County Schools Prepares for a New Round of Mediation With UTSWC
Posted on 01/31/2020
During a meeting on Jan. 23, South Washington County Schools and the United Teachers of South Washington County (UTSWC) discussed how to move forward after UTSWC members voted not to approve a tentative contract agreement.

In December, union leadership had previously agreed to a two-year (2019-21) agreement that would have provided flexible workdays for teachers, significant increases to health care contributions and salary increases in March and July 2020. The current 2017-19 teachers contract remains in effect. The district committed $11.5 million to the two-year contract cycle. On average, the tentative agreement provided an increase in total compensation of approximately $7,000 per teacher for the life of the contract. This amount includes an increase in steps (which occurred in July 2019) and lanes.

Good to Know

Many teachers receive an automatic pay raise every year based on their union contract. This is known as steps.

An individual’s salary can be increased following completion of classes, credits and degrees. This is known as lanes. This is a benefit that is unique in education and is not seen in the private sector.

The following employee groups are considered when determining wage and benefit increases for any one group. District 833 negotiates with 11 employee labor groups.
  • Bus Drivers
  • Bus Mechanics
  • District Office Support Specialists
  • Kids Club Supervisors
  • Maintenance
  • Miscellaneous 
  • Nutrition Services
  • Office Professionals
  • Paraprofessionals
  • Principals
  • Teachers

Other Benefits

The district’s negotiations team offered teachers one workday at the end of each trimester. For the first time, teachers would have the option to work from home - a benefit that many other industries offer and that the district believes is an important opportunity for our educators.
The benefits package includes a $3,000 contribution to each individual’s Voluntary Employees Beneficiary Association (VEBA)/Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) account which may be used to pay for medical expenses. The deductibles on the high deductible plan are $2,000 for single plans and $4,000 for family plans.
Outside of the contract, the district also worked closely with teachers to adjust the school calendar for additional workdays to complete grading and prepare for conferences. These days will help address concerns about workload to best meet the needs of our students.

Financial Health

The general fund is what pays for the core requirements of K-12 education. About 80 percent of the general fund is dedicated to staff salary and benefits. A small portion of the fund balance includes money that is unassigned. The unassigned fund balance is like a savings account. The more you have, the better rates you can get when borrowing money. Currently, the district has an unassigned fund balance of four percent ($8,790,153) which is well below board policy that requires five to nine percent. 

Unassigned Fund Balance

Unassigned Fund Balance Chart

Next Steps

District 833 is currently awaiting new dates to continue mediation. Both parties participated in two mediation sessions before a tentative agreement was reached in December 2019. The state’s Bureau of Mediation Services (BMS) provides mediation to help facilitate collective bargaining. District 833 looks forward to settling a contract that values our teachers and allows the district to effectively manage expenses and classroom resources for students.

The original tentative agreement between District 833 and the United Teachers of South Washington County (UTSWC) included:

Salary Schedule:

  • Steps and lanes (started July 1, 2019)
  • 1.7 percent salary increase beginning March 1, 2020
  • 2.4 percent salary increase beginning July 1, 2020
  • Adult Basic Education: Increase of $1/hr beginning July 1, 2020
  • Extracurricular (Schedule C) rates:
    • An increase from $133 to $138 per point in 2019-2020 
    • An increase from $138 to $140 per point in 2020-2021

Health Insurance:

  • Jan. 1, 2020: District increase: 7.8 percent single; 3 percent family
  • Jan. 1: 2021: District increase: 2 percent single: 2 percent family
  • No change to VEBA contributions