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Wrenshall: Board, teachers close to deal

Contract negotiations between the Wrenshall school district and its teachers went to the rare step of mediation last month in order to resolve sticking points.

The Wrenshall school board on Monday agreed to table approval of the eventual agreement until members can check the 36-page document that some received only just before the meeting.

The contract, expected to be formally approved by the board at a special meeting next week, will date back to July 1, 2021.

One board goal, to increase the starting wage for new teachers in the district, proved to be the biggest hurdle, superintendent Kim Belcastro told the board Monday. Increasing pay, from $35,000 to $37,000, created an overall drop for those with more time in the district. Misty Bergman, who represented the board along with member Jack Eudy, said the teachers agreed to drop a lane in the salary schedule in order to accommodate the low-end increase.

The increase in starting salary was deemed a top priority to help the district in hiring during a competitive market for staff, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has bumped substitute pay at districts across the county as staff absences waxed and waned.

Teachers in the local union agreed to the contract that was forged from the mediation, a formal practice with a neutral third party used when two sides can’t find common ground in normal discussions over contracts.

Sports collective

Carlton and Wrenshall board members will be part of a committee that will explore a possible full cooperative agreement when it comes to sports activities in the districts. In what has been described as something similar to the Moose Lake/Willow River arrangement, the two districts would merge the few remaining sports each now operates independently: volleyball, basketball and baseball. The districts already combine as the Raptors for cross country, football, softball and track. Track and softball are the recent combinations agreed upon for this spring.

Each district has been struggling with filling out teams to be competitive.

 
 
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