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Two-year contract for WF teachers

In a special meeting last Wednesday, the West Fargo School Board unanimously approved a two-year contract with the teachers union.

"By and large, I think we are excited to get teachers off and running on the correct schedule at appropriate wages, and we are happy to have it in time for school," human resources director Robin Hill said.

The contract gives teachers a 3.06 percent increase in salary and benefits for this year, next year, that number rises to 6.26 percent.

In the 2014-2015 school year, the district will pay $48.4 million in salary and benefits, which is just over $4 million more than they paid last year.

"Two years ago, (the teachers) understood where we were financially, with new buildings going up and new teachers to hire," Olson said. "It all adds up in a short amount of time, and they accepted a fairly minimal contract. This time around, we decided that we would do what we could, and find it in our budget to help them out. They sacrificed for our sake last time, so we would do the same."

The Board also agreed to continue paying half of the annual contribution to the Teachers Fund For Retirement.

This year, a teacher with a bachelor's degree fresh out of college will make $36,971, including their retirement fund. Next year, that total moves up to $37,808. One with a master's degree and 30 years experience in West Fargo Schools will earn $77,414 this year, but that increases to $80,429 in the fall of 2014.

Teachers will now receive 12 days of sick leave per year, instead of the previous 10 days. They can also build up 120 days of sick leave.

Upon retirement, district teachers -- who have been in the district for 10 or more years -- can receive payment for up to 45 unused sick days, at a rate of $100 per day.

"We've struggled on a couple Wednesday nights lately, and things looked kind of grim for a while," board member and negotiations chairperson Dave Olson said. "But both sides looked outside of their comfort zones and worked something out."