Teacher rallies continue at District 91 office as salary negotiations move forward - East Idaho News

Teacher rallies continue at District 91 office as salary negotiations move forward

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IDAHO FALLS – More than 100 teachers and students protested and rallied in front of the District 91 administrative offices Monday.

This was the second protest in a week as the Board of Trustees went into executive session with administrators to discuss the contract proposals.

Negotiations last Wednesday made progress, but failed to reach a resolution between the administrative and the Idaho Falls Education Association’s teams. After six hours of back and forth, the district offered a 1.75% pay increase, while the Idaho Falls Education Association’s negotiators countered with a 2.5% raise proposal.

“The package we bring before you right now is the limit of what I’m authorized to do by the board,” Superintendent Karla LaOrange said.

RELATED | Teachers protest outside D91 after salary negotiations resume

The district previously offered no raise, while teachers requested a 5% salary increase.

Negotiations will resume in earnest Tuesday afternoon between the two parties. It will be the two teams’ 20th meeting this school year, LaOrange said.

Both sides hope to reach a resolution by Wednesday, when the district’s teachers are scheduled to ratify a decision.

“We made some movement and progress on salary,” LaOrange said. “Movement is a good thing. Then we’re working to come to an agreement.”

Teachers protest with signs outside the District 91 office Monday. | David Pace EastIdahoNews.com

The teachers’ willingness to rally, wave signs and speak with Board of Trustee members and administration outside on Monday shows their commitment to the cause, said Wendi Straub, an AP science teacher at Idaho Falls High School.

“I think the 2.5% is a huge compromise on our part. It is below the cost of living in the state of Idaho. We’re still taking a pay cut, and that’s the best we can hope for tonight,” Straub said.

In addition to the wage negotiations, the two sides reached a tentative agreement last Wednesday on a $2,000 base increase for co-curricular and extracurricular stipends – including increases for eSports, drama and debate.

Idaho Falls Education Association lead negotiator Jake Snarr pointed out it’s the largest increase in a while.

“The last (base increase was) $1,000, and that was some years ago. That kind of makes up for some lost ground,” said Snarr.

They reached a tentative agreement on a $300 one-time payment in November for full-time staff and $150 for part-time staff.

Additionally, administrators and teachers agreed to $150,000 in leadership stipends districtwide. This will allow teachers to earn an additional $300, $600 or $900 for additional work.

The negotiations between the teachers’ association and the district have been operating under an interest-based bargaining model for the last two years.

LaOrange expressed satisfaction with the progress and milestones reached during Wednesday’s exchanges and discussion.

“I was disappointed that we weren’t able to come to a final agreement (last Wednesday) night. But I am optimistic because we made a lot of progress,” she said.

Teachers II
A family expresses support for District 91 teachers during the negotiations process Monday. | David Pace, EastIdahoNews.com