Douglas School Board OKs teacher's contract

More than a year's worth of salary negotiations came to an end Tuesday. Douglas County School District teachers have a new contract.

The district and the Douglas County Professional Education Association reached a tentative contract agreement in August.

The Association ratified the terms of the contract Sept. 7, leaving the final approval up to the Board of Trustees. That approval came at Tuesday's board meeting. The contract was accepted in a unamious board decision.

"Essentially this was taken care of in three meetings in one month and I think this is a result of good faith bargaining," district Personnel Services Director John Soderman said at the meeting. "I want to congratulate the board. I appreciate that you did what you did and are still a responsible group of people."

Lake representative George Echan said he hopes the district and the teachers can move pass the animosity which sprouted during the negotiation process.

"Union negotiations and board negotiations are extremely difficult and there is always sort of a hangover," he said. "But I think it's time for all of us, no matter how difficult this year has been, to turn to the issue of student achievement."

According to a district press release, provided in August, the two-year contract includes a 1 percent salary increase on the 1998-99 salary schedule by October and a 1 percent bonus on the 2000-2001 schedule for all contracted, certified teachers employed as of Sept. 1, 2000. A 1 percent increase will apply to all stipend salaries as well.

The 1 percent bonus will also be given to the 38 teachers who left the district and the 46 new employees hired. There are three positions that still need to be filled. When hired, those employees will not receive the bonus, but will get the 1 percent increase on the salary schedule.

Association President Marty Cronin said even though teachers accepted the contract, there are issues beyond salary, which still remain.

"The concerns of the teachers are more than money," he said. "The issues are respect, professional input and seeing the education of the kids in our community being conducted by the highest standards. We will continue to move forward in an effort to make the public aware of those concerns."

Members of the board also addressed the issue of lack of funding from the state of Nevada.

"I was very happy to see that (the association) ratified this," board clerk Cheri Johnson said. "It was unfortunate we had to be pulled apart this way, but we need to come together and lobby the legislature."

The agreement also gives teachers 15 days sick leave for child or family illness, and the district agreed to absorb the increase in employee and dependent group insurance rate increases for the 2000-2001 school year.

Board member David Brady expressed some concern about predicted inflation of insurance rates. Soderman said he hopes the district will get legislative funding to help absorb those increases.


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