The agreement reached by the USD 443 Board of Education and the Dodge City National Education Association (DCNEA) was ratified by teacher vote last week and by the board at the June 26 meeting.

"I appreciate all the work both parties did to make this happen," Lisa Killion, board president, said.

The teacher contract includes a $1,500 across-the-board salary increase to all full-time certified teachers. The increase brings the salary for a beginning teacher to $40,200.

"I’m extremely excited about the raise," Executive Director of Human Resources Dr. Ramona Nance said. "When you’re recruiting and you can say your beginning teachers make $40,200, that’s impressive. It’s a big deal."

An additional change was made to teacher’s personal leave.  Each teacher receives two personal leave days each year.  However, teachers in years 6-10 of service to the district may now use one of their accrued sick leave days as an additional personal leave day. Teachers in years 11-15 may use up to two accrued sick days, and teachers with more than 16 years of service may use up to three accrued sick leave days as additional personal leave days.

"Even though the district pays for unused personal leave days at the end of the year, we did stipulate that they will only be eligible to be paid for those initial two days," Nance said. "So there is no additional cost to the district."

Normal column movement remains in place and 3 percent is being added to the special salaries base.

"That’s what we use to calculate the daily rate for long term substitute teachers and the factor we use as the base for club sponsors, coaches, and other groups," Nance said.

Elementary teacher planning periods remain at an average of 50 minutes daily. However, part of the new teacher contract stipulates that no portion of that planning period is less than 20 minutes in length.

"DCNEA asked that we get a little more structured in plan time for teachers," Nance said. "In order for them to have the most effective time for planning, no segments will be less than 20 minutes at a time."

Finally, the two groups agreed that a committee will be formed to review teacher evaluation processes and forms. DCNEA representative Paul Stoda was in attendance and thanked by board member Jeff Hiers.

"Thank you to you and your committee," Hiers said. "It’s phenomenal to be ratifying this agreement on June 26."

Stoda said it was "an honor to get guidance from Superintendent Alan Cunningham one more time.

"The patience of the board also made it less stressful," he added. "We feel good about the negotiated agreement."

Also at Monday’s meeting, the board approved salary increases to the classified, exempt and administrative employees, commensurate with the increases awarded to the certified staff. In addition, the decision was made to offer three additional paid holidays for classified staff. Two can be taken between the Thanksgiving and New Year holidays, while another day is available for Spring Break.

"With calendars going to more extended breaks for students at Christmas, a lot of employees either had to take time without pay or they had to work," Superintendent Alan Cunningham said. "This was a nice way to honor those folks for the work they do for us by extending to them an additional three extra paid holidays during the school year."

This was Cunningham’s final board meeting as he retires from his position on Friday. Dr. Fred Dierksen is USD 443’s new superintendent of schools and assumes office July 3.