Teachers, school boards prep for negotiation season, in light of tight budgets

Jan 8, 2018

Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Teachers and school boards are preparing for the upcoming negotiation season.

And it comes after the 2017 Legislature kept K-12 funding flat, due to short state revenues.

"Although (state revenues) have improved some, we're still looking at some very, very difficult times" said North Dakota United president Nick Archuleta. ND United represents teachers.

"Most of us in the private sectors would see a cost of living raise each year," said North Dakota School Boards Association executive director Alexis Beasley. "When funding is flat, that's tough to do."

In 2017, a number of school districts went to impasse – and several districts negotiated one-year contracts instead of two-year deals. And in some cases, teachers did not get pay raises, or just minimal increases.

"In some districts, rather than put money on the base, they gave teachers a bonus – 'Here's $500 cash,'" Arhculeta said. "We want to see everything go on the base salaries."

Baxley said most teachers are aware that money is tight. She said boards will be looking for other options outside of salary.

"What can they work with or offer their folks when there isn't extra money on the table?" Baxley said. "How can they reward the staff when there isn't extra dollars?"

The School Boards Association has scheduled its negotiations seminar for early February. That seminar carries the title “Tight Budgets, Safe Workplaces and Life after Impasse.”