Nicollet schools, union reach tentative agreement

NICOLLET — Superintendent Robin Courrier informed the Nicollet Public School Board at their Wednesday meeting that NPS and the Nicollet Education Association have reached a tentative agreement for the 2024-25 school year.

“Due to the terms agreed for necessary salary improvements, and because we have had consistent declining student enrollment over the last five years, I am recommending that the board adopt a resolution directing the administration to make staff reductions equivalent to 2.0 FTE. That does not mean two teachers necessarily, but equivalent to the cost of what two teachers would be,” said Courrier.

Negotiations have been going on for a while and we have had numerous meetings with the last two set up as “mock” mediations to try to move the process along. “The agreement was strongly agreed to on April 5,” said Courrier.

The Board discussed the negotiations summary which Courrier provided to them. It includes a 2 percent salary increase for 2023-24 and a 5.8 percent increase for 2024-25.

“This would be an increase of about $2,009 for the first year and about $4,100 for the second year for the teachers,” said Board Member Jill Martens.

To increase the insurance contribution from $860 for January 1, 2024-December 31, 2024, and to $920 for January 1, 2025-December 31, 2025. Currently the contribution is $775.

To have the 403b match increase for a teacher in a continuing contract through year 8 to be $800, and a district match of $1,000 for years 9-12 and a district match of $1,200 for years 13 and beyond. Previously, it was $600 for years 4-8, $800 for years 9-12, and $1,000 for 13 plus years.

Also included in the negotiations were logistics for dates for salary payments, extracurricular pay, longevity pay, years required for longevity pay, time for grading periods and evaluation of students for teachers, and an increase from $4,500 to $5,000 to a teacher’s HCSP until eligible for Medicare, for those teachers who have served 20 years or more in the District.

School District Business Manager, Jim Freihammer, described the current budget and stressed to the Board that money will be tight, but will continue to look for reductions moving forward if enrollment does not increase.

Board Member Nick Thom said, “Maybe we should wait until after the audit is complete to vote on the agreement.”

Freihammer added, “I think it is a good idea to consider looking at the audit as it will show you in black and white where the school is at financially and what is best for the school district.”

“I am happy that there is a tentative agreement and thank NEA for thinking out of the box by using the “mock” mediations, but we need to watch our bottom line,” said Board Member Ashley Black.

Board Member Scot Osborne added, “We need to be fiscally responsible and know the bottom line.”

“We need more data before we make a decision on the agreement,” added Chairperson Adam Erickson.

Board member Mike Slater questioned if they could make a decision at the special meeting regarding the audit.

A motion was made, and unanimously approved by the board, to wait until after the review of the audit on Wednesday, May 1, at 5:00 p.m. to take a vote on the agreement.

Other Business

Talin Scherping has submitted a letter of resignation from his teaching position after the 2023-24 school year. Courrier thanks him for his three years at NPS and wishes him the very best.

Courrier recommended April 26, 2024, be changed from an Early Release Day to a full non-student, staff development day. “The purpose of the full staff development day is to begin READ Act training and PLC work toward improving instruction. We have not used any snow days this year and are five days above state requirements for students in schools,” said Courrier. This calendar change was approved by the Board.

The valedictorian for the 2023-24 school year is Julia Rosin and the salutatorian is Conner Martens.

The March 19 criminal case hearing for Lisa Cheryl Bode, NPS’ former employee, was very brief because the defense attorney only requested another hearing in Nicollet County District Court to be held on April 30, 2024, at 9:45 a.m.

Courrier recommended, and the Board approved, pursuing a contract with Remmert consulting for the 2024-25 school year. The position would include 104 days, ½ time as K-8 Principal with an additional 36 days (a day per student week) as Literacy Lead.

The superintendent welcomed K-8 Principal Nancy Remmert to the meeting. Remmert gave the Principal’s Report which included the home and school community engagements that have already been held and are upcoming. She also explained that the teachers are busy with the READ Act which includes assessment, science of reading training, and curriculum.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper?

Starting at $4.38/week.

Subscribe Today