School district passes new teacher contract for 2017-18 school year

By Amber McIver-Traywick

The Surveyor

Wednesday evening the Thompson School District Board of Education passed the new teacher contract for the 2017-18 school year. Teachers will see a half percent raise and an increase for extra duty compensation.

The contract was passed with a 6-1 vote, with board member Bryce Carlson voting against the contract, based on his concerns about the style of negotiations that were utilized.

Health care premiums were also considered and despite an increase for coverage the district will cover the difference for the teachers.

The recent School Finance Bill passed by the state legislature pertaining to school funding provided an additional $750,000 which will more than cover the additional costs.

The district will also see an increase of $53 per student next year of state funding. There were concerns earlier in the year of this number plateauing or potentially decreasing.

The problems with the negotiation process itself seemed to be the major issue of the evening. Board member Carlson and Jeff Swanty expressed concerns about a lack of communication between teachers and the board.

The district negotiates a new contract with the Thompson Education Association every year. All discussions the board has about the contract must be done in a public setting which has resulted in an extra burden on the board and caused confusion with teachers who felt their opinions weren’t sought out. Superintendent Stan Scheer clarified during the meeting that the board wanted to hear from teachers and was optimistic that next year’s negotiations would be smoother as the transition to this newer form of contract negotiations is further ironed out.

Other topics of discussion included the passing of the resolution to lease 19 more buses for next school year, and the approval of continuing the contracts of all probationary licensed staff.