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Anoka-Hennepin reaches tentative contract with teachers

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The Anoka-Hennepin school district and its teachers union have reached a tentative agreement on a new two-year contract, after nearly 10 months at the bargaining table.

The two sides met for more than seven hours Monday night and reached a deal just before midnight, the Star Tribune reports. The agreement averts a possible strike vote which the teachers union had scheduled for later in the month.

Two major sticking points had held up the talks for months. The district wanted teachers to pay more for their health insurance coverage, and also wanted to create another step in the salary schedule for less experienced teachers.

In the end, both sides compromised, the Pioneer Press reports.

Teachers agreed to the district's proposal to cap contributions to health care costs and the district dropped the additional salary step.

The contract covers the 2013-2015 school years, and would be retroactive to the beginning of this school year.

“After years of freezes, this contract does help us turn a corner,” Julie Blaha, president of Anoka Hennepin Education Minnesota, said in a statement. “While we did need to make compromises to come to an agreement, we believe this settlement will allow our teachers to return their full attention to the work they care about most deeply – educating our students.”

School district officials said they were satisfied with the deal as well.

“We are very pleased to be able to announce an agreement that we believe fairly compensates our teachers within the financial resources available to the school district,” school board Chairman Tom Heidemann said in a statement.

According to the union, these are the main provisions:

  • The union accepted a cap on health insurance contributions from the district after the district agreed to guarantee 100 percent of the cost of a plan next year.
  • The district agreed to drop the extra step on the salary schedule for younger teachers.
  • The union agreed to take a portion of its members' pay increase as a one-time stipend.
  • The salary increase, not including increases in experience or training, in the first year was $1000 for each teacher plus an additional 1.5 percent for more experienced teachers. In the second year, a 1.5 percent increase for newer teachers and 2.0 percent increase for more experienced teachers.
  • The district will add a new high-deductible health plan with an HRA option next year and include an incentive for those who choose the plan.

The 2,800 union members are expected to vote on the deal the week of April 14. If they ratify the agreement, it would go to the school board for a final vote shortly afterward.

Anoka-Hennepin, with about 39,000 students, is the largest school district in Minnesota. The Minneapolis and St. Paul school districts recently settled contracts with their teachers, as well.

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