5-year deal between Prairie Grove School District 46, teachers union includes annual raises

Updated 6/30/2021 11:11 AM

A new five-year contract between Prairie Grove Elementary District 46 and its teachers union includes salary increases of 2.5% each of the first three years and 3% for the final two.

District 46, which encompasses Prairie Grove elementary and junior high schools, went‌‌ to‌‌ great‌‌ lengths‌‌ to‌‌ work‌‌ collaboratively‌‌ with‌‌ the‌‌ teachers ‌‌union‌ ‌to‌ ‌"develop‌ ‌language‌ ‌and ‌financial‌ ‌parameters‌ ‌that‌ ‌benefited‌ ‌teachers‌ ‌while‌ protecting‌ ‌taxpayers," Superintendent John Bute said in a memo to the school board.


The school board has generally‌ ‌tried‌‌ to‌‌ match‌‌ District 46's largest‌‌ revenues‌‌, which are from property taxes, with‌‌ its largest‌‌ expense, compensation, Bute said in the memo.

Like all school districts, District 46 falls under the state tax cap, which limits how much it can increase its property tax levy each year.

Part of that increase is tied to the rate of inflation, which averaged 1.8% over the past 10 years, ‌and the other piece is ‌‌new ‌‌property‌ ‌added‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌tax‌ ‌roll‌, which averaged about 2.5%, Bute said.

"In general, we do try to keep pay increases competitive and in line with our local revenues," Bute said in an email to the Northwest Herald.

Under the new contract, any raises may be withheld if a teacher's performance is deemed to be unsatisfactory on a summative evaluation. Teachers will have a work year of 180 days made up of 7-hour and 30-minute work days, including a duty-free lunch time of at least 30 minutes, unless the teacher chooses to have additional lunchtime supervisory duties.

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Students' school days are set to be 6 hours and 40 minutes.

The agreement, which was approved unanimously by school board members at a June meeting, runs from the upcoming 2021-22 budget year, which starts July 1, through fiscal 2025-26.

Negotiations between school board's bargaining team and Prairie Grove Teachers' Association, which began in January and concluded in May, went well, Bute said.

"We have a very good working relationship with our unions and are able to reach common ground on nearly any topic," he said.

The district's bargaining team was headed by board members Stephanie Housh and Steve Sebastian and included Bute and Chief Financial Officer Kevin Werner, while the Prairie Grove Teachers' Association's team was led by Jane VanAlstine and Jennifer Moon, who Bute called "great to work with."

"We look forward to the next five years," Bute said.

Union representatives could not be reached for comment.

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