South Dakota district, teachers at negotiation impasse
STURGIS, S.D. (AP) — A school district and its teachers in a western South Dakota county are headed for state-backed mediation after reaching an impasse over contract negotiations.
The Meade County School Board and the Meade Education Association are set to go into mediation next month, the Rapid City Journal reported .
The district has offered teachers with at least five years of experience a $550 raise, and remaining teachers a $350 raise. The increase meets the state's requirement of a 1 percent raise.
"The School Board has carefully reviewed budget projections for 2018-19 and believes that its offer to Meade Education Association is fair, prudent and consistent with South Dakota statutes for teacher compensation," the district said in a statement.
The proposal isn't enough, said Eric Johnson, the head negotiator for the Meade Education Association.
"Under the board proposal average salaries would actually drop from 2017-18 to 2018-19," Johnson wrote in a statement. "The salaries would 'just' stay above the state-imposed accountability rate for teacher's salaries."
Johnson said the union initially proposed giving experienced teachers a $1,900 raise, but the district rejected that offer.
District officials said some funds must go toward operating a new middle school in Summerset. The district has also asked the union to take into consideration two building projects that could change enrollment numbers and staffing needs, said the district's attorney Lester Nies and business manager Brett Burditt.
The negotiation process will move to an administrative judge under the Labor Department if an agreement can't be reached.
The district serves 2,800 students at 15 facilities.
Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com