A contract dispute between Rapid City’s public school district and the local teachers’ union appears to be headed for resolution after a state administrative law judge recommended adoption of the district’s position.
Rapid City Area Schools’ last offer was a $700 raise for each employee in the teacher group, including not only teachers but also positions such as librarians, counselors, therapists and others. Spread across the roughly 1,000 employees in the group, the raises would cost the district about $700,000.
An administrative law judge for the state Department of Labor and Regulation, Michelle Faw, conducted a hearing Jan. 9 and then issued a written recommendation in favor of the school district on Jan. 18.
“RCAS believes that providing the $700.00 per teacher while also focusing on repairs and the school strategic plan is fair and allows RCAS to resolve competing interests,” Faw wrote.
Synova Nicolaisen, the school district’s director of human resources, said the recommendation could be adopted by the school board at its next meeting, which begins at 5 p.m. Monday in the City School Administration Center at 300 Sixth St.
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The teachers’ union, called the Rapid City Education Association, had sought stepped pay increases of up to $2,000 for teachers in their first six years on the job, plus $700 pay increases for those beyond their sixth year. That proposal would have cost more than $700,000.
Sue Podoll, a teacher and president of the association, was not surprised by the recommendation from the Department of Labor’s administrative law judge.
“They don’t tend to tell districts where they should spend their money,” Podoll said.
She said the association will now shift its focus to contract negotiations for the next school year.
The average teacher salary in Rapid City public schools during the 2017-18 school year was $50,946, according to information published by the state Department of Education.