Orono schools and its teachers have agreed to a new two-year contract.

The new contract was approved by the Orono school board at its Monday, April 11 meeting, while the teachers ratified the deal a week before that.

Bryce Rasmussen, Orono Education Association president, said the group had 160 votes, which is 80 percent of membership. Rasmussen said 91.7 percent of those votes were in favor of the contract.

The new contract covers the two-year period from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2023. The total package cost of 8.15 percent for the two-year agreement will be reported to the Minnesota School Board Association, the board said.

Total package costs include salary increases, as well as projected increases in the district’s contribution toward health insurance. The contribution percentages for health insurance have been and will continue to be based on percentages of a plan with a moderate premium.

The basic salary schedule increases by 2.45 percent in year one and by 2.45 percent in year two. The co-curricular schedule also increased by those same percentages.

Both sides expressed relief that the long negotiations are over and that the contract was approved.

“It’s a relief to have it over,” Rasmussen, who is in his first year as president, said. “There was an appetite for the teachers to get involved. I got a lot of emails from teachers asking how they could help. All of the teachers were in this together.”

Negotiation for the new contract began last summer when the previous two-year contract expired. Talks between the teachers and the district didn’t go far before the two sides sat down for meditation on in late March and were able to hammer out the new two-year contract.

“It was a long day, but a day well spent,” school board chair Bob Tunheim said of the mediation sessions. “Its really nice to have that behind us.”

Rasmussen agreed that it was a long day and that it was worth the time and effort.

“The district asked for the meditation,” Rasmussen said. “In meditation, things started to really move for both sides. It was about an eight and a half hour day and we left with something we are satisfied with.”

As is usually the case in contract negotiations, the sticking points were mostly financial, Rasmussen said.

It won’t be long and the two sides will be back and the negotiating table as this contract runs until June 30, 2023.

In other school board action, the board approved the contracts for all of its spring sports coaches while also agreeing to a resolution on the non-renewal of boys hockey coach William Scholtz contract.

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