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Stalled contract talks hang over Edina district
State mandated fines may hit district soon if no settlement develops

By Emma Swift
Stinger-Gazette staff writer

The Edina School District might have to pay the state of Minnesota a fine if by Jan. 15, 2008, it hasn’t come to an agreement with teachers about a new contract.

            Currently, Edina teachers and the school board can’t come to an agreement about terms in the proposed teaching contract. Every two years, the state reworks its budget and its budget for public school funding, so teachers and the Edina School Board re-negotiate contracts. If a new contract can’t be agreed upon before the old contract expires, the teachers have to operate on the out-of-date one. Now, Edina teachers are under the rules and regulations of the contract that started in July 2005 and expired this June.

            “It upsets me because it’s not the first time,” said Mr. Alejandro Diaz, a Spanish teacher at Edina High School. He said teachers are negatively affected by not having a current contract because he thinks the contract is essential to good working conditions. Numerous School Board members did not return phone calls.

            “[The contract] clarifies your responsibilities as a teacher,” said Mr. Erik Gronberg, another Spanish teacher and secretary of the Edina Division of Education Minnesota Teacher’s Union.

            The contracts, or “master agreements” as they are officially called, define terms of salaries, health care benefits, sick days and the length of a workday.

            Given the “rise in inflation and health care premiums,” said Mr. Van Anderson, an English teacher at the High School and President of the Education Minnesota’s Edina Branch, the contracts are out of date and unfair for teachers. He said he believes if the current contracts aren’t upgraded it will cause financial turmoil for teachers.

            Contract proposals are still quite a way from being completed, Anderson said. If the school board and the teachers can’t come to an agreement by January 15 the district will have to pay the state $25 per student (kindergarten through 12th grade) per day.