The Stillwater Area Public Schools board had approved in February the master contract with its teachers’ union, the St. Croix Education Association (see March 5 Gazette, “Stillwater schools board OKs teacher’s contract).
Since that time, the Gazette has obtained a copy of the agreement, which had been approved by the board in a 5-2 vote.
The new contract with SCEA covers the period of July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2021. Under the terms of the contract, the salary schedule was increased by 0% in year one and 4.2% in year two. That compares to the state average of 0% in year one and 4.4% in year two.
For the current 2020-2021 year, salaries range from $45,565 to $94,000 depending on education level and years teaching, according to the salary schedule included as an appendix to the teachers’ contract.
Under the contract, teachers would be rewarded for supplementing their required accreditations with national certification through the National Board of Teaching (NBT). Those holding this national certification are entitled under the terms of the contract to a $1,500 stipend for each year they maintain their NBT certification.
The agreement with SCEA also lays out the different types of leave available to teachers, including sick and personal days as well as time away for professional development, whether through a sabbatical or a more informal educational leave.
For sick leave, the contract specifically allows that it can be used for “all absences resulting from an employee’s physical and mental illnesses, therapy, examinations and consultations,” including that for immediate family members. The district would also grant up to 10 days of paternity leave under this contract.
Teachers will have 12 days of sick leave, credited on the first day of each school year contract and for first-year employees made available after working a minimum of one day. Those sick days can also accumulate “without limit” with the one restriction that no more than 120 days be used for any one reason.
Separate days of paid personal leave will also be granted teachers for reasons “beyond the control of the employee.” The contract specifically lists funerals, college graduations of family members and necessary academic exams while also specifically noting that these days may not be used for honeymoons, hunting and fishing trips, extended vacations or additional sick time.
For professional development, the teachers’ contract differentiates between sabbatical and educational leave. According to the contract, those employed with the district for at least six years are eligible to apply for sabbatical, which is offered at 75 percent of the teacher’s salary alongside the teacher’s commitment to return
to the district for at least one year upon return. Educational leave, by contrast, is available to those employed in the district for just two years, is granted without compensation and requires no post-leave commitment
by the teacher.
The seniority structure outlined in the contract will govern instances when the district finds it has to instate forced leaves of absence for the next school year, retaining longer those with higher seniority and bringing back in reverse order those who had been placed on leave.
Those decisions for the next year’s “unrequested” leaves of absence must be made early in the spring, with the school board responsible for first determining “the status of all teachers for the next school year, including teachers on [voluntary] leave of absence, and teachers intending to resign or retire.”
All such leaves of absence decided upon in spring would take effect that fall, at the beginning of the next school year, and would be without pay or district-paid fringe benefits.
Some safeguards are built into the contract for those whom the district has placed on unrequested leave, such as a hiring freeze for positions that could be filled by someone already employed by the district but who is on leave and is qualified for that role.
The contract also notes that teachers licensed in more than one area and are either placed on leave or about to be placed on leave have the right to take another position within the district “for which he/she is licensed, provided that the teacher’s seniority status shall be greater than another teacher in such area.”