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District 50 finalizes teachers’ contract

HARVARD – Teacher salaries will increase by nearly 3 percent this school year and next as part of a new District 50 collective-bargaining agreement.

The school board unanimously ratified the two-year contract Wednesday night after union members – formally known as the Harvard Education Association – agreed to the terms of the deal Dec. 20.

The contract covers the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years.

Under the agreement, teacher salaries will rise 2.96 percent this year and 2.85 percent next year. The base salary for teachers will rise $805 over the next two years.

“We increased the base salary by more than $800 because we want to continue to attract quality new teachers,” said Lauri Tobias, District 50 superintendent.

The contract includes a less than 1 percent increase to retirement system payments over the next two years. Insurance payments from the district will remain the same.

The school board had anticipated salary increases and incorporated them into its 2013 budget, board President Dick Stoxen said.

The two sides began negotiating in June and brought in a federal mediator in October to speed up talks.

District 50 spokesman Bill Clow said there was no one issue that divided the two sides when they decided to seek a mediator.

“They felt it would move things along,” he said. “And it did.”

School board members remarked about the ease of negotiations at Wednesday’s meeting.

“I think we should say how nice the association was,” Stoxen said. “We had real good bargaining sessions and it worked out well.”

Clow said the tone of negotiations remained positive and professional throughout.

District 50 encompasses Harvard High School, Harvard Junior High School, Jefferson School, Crosby Elementary and Washington School. Approximately 2,500 students attend the five schools.

The Harvard Education Association has about 130 members.

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