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Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton district, teachers reach labor deal

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Teachers and district negotiators in Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton agreed on a new educator contract with help from a state mediator.

Teachers will receive a 3.6 increase in overall compensation over two years. That's roughly equal to the percentage increase their counterparts in Moorhead negotiated and just below a preliminary state average.

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Negotiations in Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton hinged on a marked jump in enrollment the district saw this year. Teachers said the increase - and the resulting bump in per-pupil state aid - meant the district could afford a modest raise for teachers. The district countered enrollment tends to fluctuate too much to base a pay increase on it.

"It's a reasonable contract," Superintendent Randy Bruer said. "But depending on what the state is going to do to balance its budget, I am leery we might have to make adjustments to the district budget. Money is tight."

Dan Boyd, lead negotiator for the teachers union, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

D-G-F teachers will receive a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase this year, but it will go into effect this month instead of at the start of the school year as usual. They'll get a 1 percent increase next year.

The district will also honor seniority and graduate credit increases. It will contribute an additional $250 each year to teachers' insurance coverage, which last year was about $4,500 annually.

"I personally think the state averages are too high for this economy," said School Board member Ronnie Tang of overall compensation increases, "but this is where they're at, and this is where we need to be."

The district now enrolls about 1,380 students, about 40 more than it did at this time last year. The increase, teachers have said, means more work for them.

Tang said a variety of factors contributed to the enrollment increase. He said much of the influx is at the kindergarten level. Last year, the district did away with a parent fee for all-day kindergarten, giving it a possible edge over Moorhead, which started offering a fee-based all-day kindergarten program.

D-G-F attracted more students through open enrollment with a net gain of about 150, compared to about 130 last year.

"We couldn't have afforded this without the increase in students," Tang said of the contract.

Depending on how the state addresses its gaping budget deficit, the district might have to trim its own budget, Tang said. D-G-F has hired a consultant, Roger Worner, to conduct an in-depth organizational study and look for ways to boost efficiency.

Worner, who produced studies for Moorhead, Pelican Rapids and other districts, is set to release his report in May.

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