Teachers at Lake Superior District schools have been working without a contract agreement since June of last year. Contracts are negotiated every two years and representatives of the Teacher’s Union are currently engaged in discussions with District officials to hopefully reach an agreement that is acceptable to all parties.
What the teachers are asking for is a 7.81% wage increase over the next two years. This figure is in line with the pay increases that teachers in other districts across the State are receiving. Such an agreement would mean that Lake Superior teachers would receive a 4.5% increase this year and would receive a 3.31% increase in 2025.
Currently, teacher’s wages do not keep up with inflationary costs. In addition, teachers’ health care premiums increased on January 1st of this year. One could say that LSSD teachers are actually asking for a pay reduction over the next two years as a 9.24% pay increase would be needed for them to break even with inflation.
According to Education Minnesota and Minnesota Public Radio News, 84% of Minnesota school districts are significantly, or very significantly affected by teacher shortages. In addition, one- third of new teachers leave the profession within the first five years. Public education has been severely underfunded for a long time. This underscores the fact that teachers, with their very unique skill sets, are having to leave education for better paying jobs in the private sector in order to be able to adequately provide for their families. Teachers that I spoke to for this article said that they are concerned about the issue of teacher attrition among their LSSD colleagues.
With regard to reaching an agreement between the Lake Superior District Teachers Union and District officials, the union representatives said that they have had 5 or 6 sessions with District Administrators and believe that good faith negotiations will take place for the benefit of all concerned.
Since funding for education comes largely from State and Federal money and since the citizens of Lake County want and need a top tier educational system, it is important that members of the community lend their voices in support of their teachers and encourage elected officials to design greater equity in funding for schools in our region of the State. For example, over $700,000 is collected each year in Lake County from Recreation Taxes. This money is sent to the State Legislature to be distributed across the State as legislators see fit. Union representatives and District officials are lobbying State leaders to keep these funds in Lake County for the benefit of Lake County students and teachers.