Upsala teachers and Board approve contracts

by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer

January’s Upsala School Board meeting brought resolution to board members and teachers alike as both the current and upcoming teacher contracts were approved and signed following approximately 18 months of negotiation.

“It was a long process — but we got there,” said Upsala School District Supt. Gery Arndt. “It was a true compromise with both sides giving a little. We succeeded in getting a four-year contract taken care of.”

For the 2011/2012 and 2012/2013 school years, no additional pay was given for teachers above their regular steps and lanes for the first year. For the second year, a $1,000 increase at each step was agreed upon. As part of the teacher health plan, the Board and teachers also approved instituting new language for a flex plan for teachers who don’t take the health insurance offered.

For the 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 school years, an additional $1,000 for each step, each year was approved in addition to 60 minutes of preparation time per teacher per day.

“It took a long time, but we’re satisfied with the collaboration between the teachers and the board,” said fifth grade teacher Jim Drill. “We’re happy. There were some more dollars there for the teachers — meaningful increases in pay, and changes made to the contract language which will be more beneficial to the kids. Scheduling will be eased, allowing more flexibility in creating better class choices and opportunities for the kids.”


Other business that came before the Upsala School Board Jan. 23, included:

• Learning that the inaugural induction of members into the Upsala Hall of Fame will be held Saturday, Feb. 16 between the girls and boys basketball games and will include Stanley Nordin, 1937; Dave Holmen, 1954; Ralph Soltis, 1959 and Paula Lange, 1981;

• Electing by unanimous ballot, Dean Peterson as board chair, Marvin Wensmann as vice chair, Randy Pepin as treasurer and Karin Nelson as clerk;

• Following discussion, setting board compensation at $0 for regular or special board meetings, and $100 for all-day meetings (more than four hours, retaining both previous levels of compensation;

• Maintaining the District’s legal counsel as Knutson, Flynn and Deans P.A. for financial issues; Rupp, Anderson, Squires and Waldspurger P.A. for student and personnel issues and Mike Perry of Little Falls for other issues as needed;

• Retaining the Morrison County Record as the District’s official publication;

• Redesignating Stearns Bank of Upsala and the Minnesota Liquid Asset Fund as official depositories;

• Approving the payment of district financial obligations in advance of board approval via Imprest Cash Fund;

• Authorizing Supt. Gery Arndt and Colleen Harren to make electronic fund transfers;

• Approving the 2013 board meeting schedule, which will remain on the fourth Wednesday of each month except December, when it will be the third Wednesday;

• Approving a tentative 2013-2014 school year calendar;

• Approving a resolution directing the administration to make recommendations for reductions in programs and positions. “It’s the same motion we make every year; legally we have to do it,” said Peterson. “I don’t think we will be making any cuts in positions,” Arndt said;

• Accepting an anonymous donation of $1,500 to be set aside for an identified need. “This gift is wonderful and appreciated,” said Nelson.

• Approving maternity leave for Courtney Justin beginning Feb. 4 through April 2; and

• Approving the hiring of long-term substitute teacher Amber Kaltoff.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Upsala School Board will be Wednesday, Feb. 27 at 7:30 p.m. in the high school media center.