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Teachers, Mitchell school district strike one-year deal

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news Mitchell, 57301
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

Mitchell Superintendent Joe Graves is expected to present a tentative salary and benefits package for the district's teachers to the Mitchell Board of Education today.

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The one-year agreement was reached Tuesday night via e-mail communications between both parties, Mitchell Education Association chief negotiator Curtis Smith said.

"We finally decided that we were able to come to an agreement on some things," Smith said, but he declined to discuss those points of agreement until after today's announcement. Smith said he's planning to attend tonight's meeting.

The board meets in regular session at 5 p.m. today in the Mitchell Middle School cafeteria. The meeting is open to the public.

The districts and the teachers had officially been at an impasse and had been scheduled for an Aug. 24 mediation session with the state Department of Labor. That meeting was reset to Oct. 13 by the DOL.

The MEA and the board decided to meet Aug. 24 anyway.

According to Smith, they were unable to hammer out their differences, but that meeting formed the basis for the agreement that was reached last week.

The MEA was unwilling to consider any agreement longer than a year, Smith said, because of the uncertain nature of state education funding.

On a scale of 1 to 10 -- with 10 representing a high degree of satisfaction -- Smith rated his satisfaction with the agreement at a 5.

"There were a couple of issues that we couldn't agree to, but we decided just to let the board impose those, rather than go the mediation and fact-finding," Smith said. The agreement must be approved by the MEA membership before it becomes official, he said.

Following today's meeting, the school board will tour Mitchell Middle School.

The agenda also includes school board consideration to:

* Approve nearly $156,000 in change order charges for Mitchell Technical Institute construction.

* Approve a 2011-2012 agreement with the MEA.

* Impose two language items into the agreement between the board and the MEA.

* Approve administrator contracts.

* Discuss the Associated School Boards of South Dakota legislative platform,

* Hear a presentation by Davison County Deputy State's Attorney Jim Taylor on a proposed revision to the tax assessment equalization process.

Also, the board will consider approving following personnel items:

* Resignation: Kim Strehlow, food service, Longfellow Elementary, effective Sept. 15.

* Transfers: Dawn Swenson, paraeducator/special education, plus half-time educational assistant, effective Sept. 6.; Sherrie Wermers, from split-shift custodian at Mitchell High to day shift and laundry at the high school.

* New hires: Laura Hora, paraeducator, GBR, six hours daily at $10.82 an hour; Chris Downs, farm and business management instructor, MTI, $45,000; William Walters, farm and business management instructor, MTI, $45,000, all effective Sept 6.

* Fall adjunct faculty, MTI: Dustin Sperlich, CIS 105 technology, $4,590; Ron Vanderheiden, BC 282 welding, $2,640; and Julie Hart Schutte, psychology 105, $1,530.

* Volunteers, MTI: Tanner Lolley; Dalton Hump, $1, as rodeo drivers.

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