Billings Public Schools, union reach 'tentative' contract agreement

2014-04-02T16:12:00Z 2014-04-03T11:19:05Z Billings Public Schools, union reach 'tentative' contract agreement Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette

Billings Public Schools and the Billings Education Association agreed Wednesday afternoon on a two-year labor contract that would increase the district’s salary scale by 2 percent both years and make changes to the language used in the prior contract, according to a press release from the district and BEA.

The vote to ratify the two-year deal will occur in late April.

Superintendent Terry Bouck and his administrative staff are happy about the proposed contract, as “it signifies that people can meet and come to an agreement,” he said.

He said the fact that it is a two-year contract will maximize the district’s window of opportunity for improvement.

Bouck said that teachers have been notified, but he has yet to hear from any of them.

The two groups have been negotiating for three weeks, after their previous contract had expired.

“Everyone negotiated in good faith,” he said.

The release states that many of the language changes concern better classroom practices and support for improved communications.

According to the release, both sides brought language to the table “to improve the current evaluation tool used by the district.”

BEA President Scott McCulloch described the talks as a frank exchange to support teachers in Billings.

“Educators in Billings are among the finest in the Northwest. It was our goal to give them stronger tools to use in the classroom,” he said.

Jeana Lervick, the executive director of human resources for Billings Public Schools, echoed that, saying: “The common goal of giving our children the finest education possible really came through in our talks, and we look forward to focusing together on all we can do for our students.”

There has not been a salary increase in the last two contracts outside of steps and lanes, programs that give additional pay for additional education and time in the district.

Bouck believes the last time the salary matrix saw a bump was three years ago.

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