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Detroit Lakes school district begins employee contract negotiations

One down, five to go.

The Detroit Lakes School Board approved a new contract agreement Monday night with one of the six employee groups whose contracts are up for negotiation.

The Detroit Lakes Principal's Association settled on the district's offer of a two-year, 3.3 percent increase, which Superintendent Doug Froke says is "largely based on a stipend mode of compensation, as apposed to increasing the salary schedule."

School Board Chairman Dr. Tom Seaworth praised the Principal's Association for their flexibility.

"I want to thank the principals' association for being good to work with and very understand of the difficult financial times that the school district faces right now, and so we very much appreciate their efforts and professionalism and willingness to work with us," said Seaworth.

Next in line for board approval is the Secretaries Association, which has settled on a tentative agreement of a 4.56 percent increase over two years.

That agreement is up for approval at next month's school board meeting.

Froke says from there, the next in line for negotiations will be the bus drivers and custodians, followed by the para professionals and special education teachers and ALC administrators.

Meanwhile, a fairly wide gap still remains in negotiations between the district and the teacher's union.

"We have not heard back from the Bureau of Mediation Services relative to their request or petition for mediation with the teachers," said Froke, who adds that currently the district has an offer on the table of 3.3 percent over a two-year period, while the teachers are requesting an 8.12 percent increase.

Detroit Lakes teachers were given a 5.81 percent increase in salary and benefits when their contracts were last negotiated in 2009.