The Hastings Public School District and union groups for the district's teachers and principals agreed to new contracts in last week's board meeting.

The contracts include changes to benefits and pay for teachers and principals. The teacher contract also details the formation of a new committee designed to address student behavior in the district.

"We realize that they are trying to negotiate what is best for their members and we're trying to negotiate what's best for the school," said Superintendent Tim Collins. "I do think [this] is a fair settlement."

The teacher's contract includes 2% and 1.95% increases in teachers' salary steps, Collins said. For principals, the new contract details a $7-a-day increase in its first year and a 1.75% increase in the second year.

Collins said at the meeting that board members are "looking at the big picture" in negotiations, and don't get caught up in specific aspects like pay.

"I don't go, and I don't believe the school board should go out, and look at what [other schools] of our size did," he said. "I think as a board you've done a very good job of looking at the total package."

The teacher contract also formed a "behavior support committee" that meets at least four times in the year to address the state of behavior in the district. The committee will consist of the members of district administration, teacher representatives and others.

Board member Lisa Hedin said that the teacher's union brought the proposal forward and said it's an issue that everyone in the district "is cognizant of" and the committee will help build "common awareness."

According to the contract between the district and Education Minnesota - Hastings, the local teacher's union, the committee will meet in October, December, and February and April 2020. The committee will review different school's behavior plans created by administration and teachers; assist in revising the student discipline policy and discuss other behavior-related concerns.

The teacher contract also included an added non-student contact day.

Board member Peter Blissenbach said at the board meeting that negotiation discussions went well.

"Everyone came in with a good attitude and worked well together," Blissenbach said.

Other actions, news

  • The board approved several change orders for construction being done at Hastings Middle School. Hedin said while the figures are large, it's important to consider the scope and cost of the project, saying at the meeting that "it does not feel out of step to me."
  • The district launched a webpage for the superintendent search where updates on it will be posted. It currently houses the contract between the district and the Minnesota School Board Association for providing services to find interim superintendent candidates.