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Detroit Lakes Public Schools, union reach agreement

Detroit Lakes Public Schools and its teachers have labor peace for the next 18 months: The school board approved a new bargaining agreement Monday night.

The district was up against a Jan. 15 deadline to reach a deal or face a $25 per pupil fine from the state.

The deal, covering the current and the next school years, gives teachers a 1.48 percent raise this year and a 1.4 percent raise for the 2010-11 school year. Step and lane increases are also in place.

"It's a process," said Superintendent Doug Froke.

Froke said that the teachers pointed to the district's increased enrollment and overall good financial health in negotiations.

"In a process that should be designed as a win-win, it's not," Froke said.

A representative from Education Minnesota-Detroit Lakes could not be reached for comment.

"But what we have is a final outcome and we go forward and continue the business of educating kids," Froke said.

He said that district budgeted for a 3 percent salary increase this year, with next year's increase to be factored into the next budget.

The district will increase its health insurance contributions from $830 for a family/$440 for a single person to $910/$440 this year and $958/$467 next year.

The district will increase long-term disability coverage from $36,000 to $50,000, with costs paid for by the teachers.

Severance pay increases from a maximum of $26,000 to $28,000.

The total increase that the district will pay out over the agreement is $854,021, representing a 5.81 percent jump over the last contract. The statewide average contract increase is 3.8 percent, according to The Forum.