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NY Mills teachers see 2 percent raise

New York Mills teachers will see a 2 percent raise - twice.

At its regular meeting Monday night, the New York Mills School Board gave consent to award teachers with two consecutive yearly raises, set at 2 percent, starting this year.

Board members on the Personnel Committee - Dan Welter, Josie Hendrickx, and Chuck Jacobson - said the committee would have liked to halt the raises, but it felt a compromise was necessary, as both sides had to give.

Jacobson said some felt this agreement wasn't good for the school board or the teachers, but it's a compromise that allows the district to move forward.

Hendrickx said personnel issues should be decided with a full board and not just a committee, as all members' contributions would be helpful for impactful decisions, making it possible to learn from one another.

The board voiced concern to Superintendent Todd Cameron about how the district will budget these raises.

Cameron offered assurance that the technology levy recently passed in November or the 2010 levy would not be used for raises.

Instead, Cameron said, the raises will come from state funds, including those designated in 2011 for schools with populations less than 1,000. The 2011 education bill also gave an additional $50-per-student in funding for all Minnesota schools, which Cameron said will help with teachers' raises.

Attrition will also play a role. Teachers retiring often earn more than those hired to replace them. Cameron said that while retirements are not always predicted, any funds remaining from attrition could also be used toward teachers' salaries.

Other contract changes, aside from teachers' salaries, may be possible for next school year, too.

The board approved a resolution proposing to place Dean of Students/Athletic Director Travis Hensch on unrequested leave of absence, due to the elimination of his position.

Cameron said eliminating this position is the first step in switching over to two full time principals, as the board discussed in a January workshop.

During the workshop, the board concluded that NY Mills, with enrollment at 700 students, needs a full-time principal on each side of the building.

Currently, the administration model consists of Blaine Novak as a full-time high school principal. Cameron's position is split between superintendent and elementary principal. The final part of the administration is Hensch's position of dean of students and athletic director.

Before this contract change can be finalized, the resolution has to be brought before the board twice - the second time being in March. If it is approved next month, the dean of student position will end June 30.

A finalized technology plan on how to spend the technology levy will be brought before the school board next month. Board President Rachel Grieger pointed out that the district has already begun making technology improvements using general revenue funds, even though revenue from the levy does not officially come into the budget until next year. The school has increased WiFi throughout the school.

The next school board meeting will be Monday, March 26 at 6 p.m.