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Lakeville Teacher Contract Negotiations Intensifying

Without a contract since July 1, Lakeville's teachers say preparation time and healthcare are sticking points.

Lakeville's teachers have been working without a contract since July 1, and it seems as though impatience is growing.

The teacher's union, Education Minnesota Lakeville, and the have met a number of times to negotiate a pact, but EML President Don Sinner says the disagreements seem to be a matter of philosophy.

The board has proposed increasing health care premiums as part of the new deal, according to a story in Thisweek Newspapers. But the major sticking point has been the proposal to cut class preparation time.

“We want to maintain the prep level we have now,” Sinner said at Tuesday's board meeting. "We have many, many teachers in the high school ranks teaching 210 kids and more during their day, whereas before that it used to be in the 150-170 range. That’s a tremendous workload increase.”

Currently, teachers have 275 minutes of prep time a week, which isn't enough, according to Sinner, for teachers who have watched class sizes increase with the layoffs of 16.5 percent of the teaching staff over the past five years.

Lakeville South High School communication arts teacher Jay Scovil told the board that cutting prep time is a mistake.

“Our classes have 40-70 students,” he said. “Teachers are overwhelmed right now.”

The board says it is highly motivated to settle the stalemate, and the next mediation session is scheduled for Jan. 5.

Sinner stopped short of blaming the board for not making a deal during the Nov. 30 mediation session, but was still critical.

“Their stances have not changed, hardly at all,” Sinner told Thisweek. “We believe it sits in the hands of six people. I know the administration would like to move forward and be able to do what needs to be done. We’re committed to continuing to provide the best education in the classroom as possible.”

Phillip January 02, 2012 at 04:08 PM
@Kristin -- Unfortunately the public data only lists salaries rather than the full compensation packages (i.e. vacation & sick time, healthcare benefit costs, incentives, increase schedules, etc.). Without those details, all you can compare is base salaries. Also, if you are concerned that teachers in other districts are paid more, then you are free to change districts if desired as another commenter mentioned. However, my guess is that the quality of the students and the community keep you tied to Lakeville schools. Please keep in mind that you need engaged parents -- and students that are willing to learn -- in order to achieve those coveted normed scores. You could certainly make much more money working in Mpls or St. Paul schools if desired. If this is one of the reasons that you stay in 194, then you also need to consider the working environment as a variable in your compensation calculation.
Sal Tessio January 03, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Phillip, while not a representative sampling, the teachers I'm acquainted with spend their summers tending their children to avoid daycare costs, take classes to maintain their license, write curriculum, teach summer school or some/all of the above. As you suggest, there are some that need to take a second job...I expect many of the recently less-than-fulltime (or those in the first years of their careers) in ISD 194 fall into that category. I have absolutely NO issue with those who pick up a part time job--it seems to be what the middle-class has do to pay the family bills. Especially in Lakeville where the median home price is $300,000. I will take exception to the generalization in which you seem to say all "senior" staff are tired/lazy/ineffective. It seems to me teaching is one field where it takes a long to time to do well. I recently saw an article on teacher attrition that indicated that fully 50 percent of new teachers leave the field before their fifth year in the class room. It is after all, an art and a science. Anyone can learn the skills but knowing how, when and where to apply them is challenging and knowing that only comes with time in the trenches. Youth and "energy" do not make one excellent let alone proficient. We can continue to pit neighbor against neighbor but when you get right down to it the real issue is funding and that can only be solved in St. Paul not at the community level.
ABSG January 04, 2012 at 12:35 PM
Back On Track To The Article: A Question I Asked: 1) What exactly does the board want these teachers to do with these lost minutes of prep time instead? 2) Why does the board want to reduce prep time? 3) Does the district save money by doing so?
Concerend Citizen January 07, 2012 at 04:14 PM
ABSG, 1) What does the district want the teachers to do with lost prep time. Spend this time having direct contact with students. 2)& 3) Why does the board want to reduce prep time, I know they want to do this at the high school level especially because it would offer more sections of classes with out having to hire more teachers. They want to pretend like all those terrible cuts didn't happen last year and start offering more choices of classes. That is how I understand it. This issue of reduced prep time is a problem at the elementary and middle level too. The board wants to do this because plain and simple they want to take advantage of the teachers in Lakeville. The less prep we have means less money they have to spend. The reason why teachers are fighting for their prep time is because we deserve a reasonable amount of time to grade papers, contact parents, and plan lessons. We already don't have enough prep time as it is we just don't want to lose any more. I hope the community can understand why this is such a huge issue.
Concerend Citizen January 07, 2012 at 04:43 PM
I would just like to say that many of the negative comments expressed above are very disheartening. I commend Travis and Kristin for trying to be the voices of reason. Sadly even with all of their good information people still refuse to listen. Bottom line is this attitude that teachers are waste of money and make too much is irritating. Yes the average salary is $61,000 well do you know how many years you have to teach in Lakeville to earn that much? Between 12 and 13 years and that is only if you have your Master's Degree plus an additional 60 graduate credits. Do you know how much an average teachers spends to get that level of education out of pocket? A Master's Degree is at least $20,000 but usually much more. Then those graduate credits are at minimum a cost of $6,000. We are talking about $30,000 or more that teachers spend out of pocket on additional education. I hope that helps people get an idea of what we personally spend to earn more money. Teachers are happy to make the investment because at least speaking personally it helped me to become a more effective educator. We have benefits too but contrary to public opinion we do pay a good amount out of pocket for our health insurance. One thing I have learned as a teacher in this community for 8 years is that many people in Lakeville do value the schools and teachers and those who don't will never change their minds. I hope the residents in Lakeville realize what good schools they have before its too late.

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