The school board followed through as expected Monday, setting the starting salary for a new teacher at North Platte public schools next fall at $37,395  — a 1.2 % increase – under a negotiated agreement.

That’s a $445 a year raise for a first-year teacher. For the last two years, new teachers have started at a salary of $36,950 a year.

The new contract also includes an average $330 increase per teacher to cover higher health insurance rates from Blue Cross/Blue Shield. It is the fourth straight year of money for teachers to offset health insurance hikes.

Teachers who don’t take the district’s health insurance, perhaps because their spouse has better coverage, will get a check for 95% of the district’s share of health insurance costs, teacher’s negotiator Bobbi Isom told the Bulletin.

Simpson told the board that teachers also get a 1% increase in the amount of pay for each step they make in completing extra education. He said that overall, the package equates to a 2.5% increase.

Isom said the overall increase is somewhat less than that, which is one of the things the union and district officials disagreed about, she said. Nevertheless, both parties said the negotiation was collaborative.

“It’s not that we always agree, but we reached an agreement that we can agree on, in a negotiated agreement way,” school board member Skip Altig said. Altig is a retired teacher and former leader of the teacher’s union, and he took part in the negotiations.

The new contract also makes some adjustments in how a teacher files a grievance of contract violation with the administration.

The contract was the major action item for the board, but there were other related issues to discuss, such as filling vacant positions.

The district has openings for 10 teachers and 6 administrators next year, Simpson said. Among the administrators leaving, Madison Principal Danny McMurtry will become the superintendent at Maxwell, and high school Activities Director Mark Morazck will become the assistant principal and activities director at Gothenburg High.

Simpson said 17 other openings have been filled across the district, but long-term openings remain in high school math and science, as well as special education and speech pathology.

It’s a busy time for personnel changes, administrators said.

“We are working through hiring to help fill coaching positions as well,” Supt. Ron Hanson told the board.

Hanson is reviewing administrators performance and determining their salaries for next year. And, at the end of the meeting, the board went into closed session to discuss personnel with Hanson and Simpson.

Associate superintendent Tami Eshleman, who is the director of human resources, was absent.

For the full meeting agenda, including a copy of the teachers’ negotiated agreement, click HERE.