negotiations

Columbia Heights Federation of Teachers Local #710 and Columbia Heights Public Schools Contract Negotiations 2023-2025

  • Statement by School Board Chair Lorien Mueller following the Legislative Update presentation by MN Senator Kunesh, MN Representative Feist and MN Representative Koegel at the School Board Meeting Feb. 6, 2024

    “First of all I want to thank you all for being here. We do appreciate your time. I also want to thank you publicly for taking the time out of your very busy schedules and coming to do tours of our schools. Superintendent Stenvik and I really enjoyed showing you around and showing you what our great students and staff are doing, and also talking through some of the challenges that we have. 

    When you were here last time, we brought up funding again. This is something that we are going to continue to bring up. I do greatly appreciate the increase in funding, specifically for our cross-subsidy issues (Special Education and EL Education). 

    You three got to hear some of the challenges that we are trying to work through. Each one of us on the Board echoes what our students and what our teachers have said in trying to provide the best education for our students and keeping great teachers. And we’re challenged. Our Board, yet again, passed a resolution directing the administration to find efficiencies. That means looking for ways that we can cut. Even after our voters here locally increased our operating levy from (approximately) $309 to (approximately) $827, we are still not there. We are still looking at creating efficiencies. 

    I think the biggest thing I would like for you to take away from me is to continue to work toward fully funding mandates. That is something that is so hard for us, as a smaller district, to keep up with funding those mandates. Senator Kunesh, I really appreciate the work that you are doing on the unemployment for the hourly workers, but if that is not fully funded, that is going to crush us. We cannot sustain that. We cannot provide the education we need to provide in the summer with that. And our cross subsidies, even with this funding, total five million dollars. So our district of currently 3,400 students has a four million dollar special education cross subsidy ,and not including all of our newcomers, a one million dollar EL education subsidy. So if you think about what our teachers have said today and what you heard when they were here, think about what we could do with five million dollars. I understand that this is federally related, but I can’t go to a teacher who is talking about 60 kids in a classroom, and tell them to call their Federal legislators. They are looking to me for answers. They are looking for us to fix it. They are looking for us to provide what they need to do their jobs, so we need the funding to do their jobs. We need our 5 million dollars in cross subsidies. I cannot express to you what that would do to our district and what we would be able to achieve with that.”

     

Current Staffing in Columbia Heights Public Schools

  • Columbia Heights Public Schools (CHPS) employs approximately 500 staff who work at our five schools, the Family Center in Early Childhood programs, in Activities and Athletics, in Community Education and at the District Center. Some categories of staff are part of a collective bargaining unit and enter into contract negotiations with the District every two or three years. These staff categories include teachers, educational assistants, food service, custodial, clerical and principals. Other categories of staff are non-affiliated and do not collectively bargain their contract. These staff categories include supervisors, directors, coordinators, managers, and superintendent.

    The contract has expired for Columbia Heights Federation of Teachers Local #710 teachers collective bargaining unit and the District and teachers are currently in the process of negotiating the contract for the 2023-24 and 2024-25 school years. The CHPS teachers are still working under the 2021-2023 contract.

Columbia Heights Public Schools Fiscal Responsibility

  • Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, Columbia Heights Public Schools experienced a decline in student enrollment coupled with rising costs and expenses. In order to continue to provide legally required student supports, the District used a combination of Federal COVID relief dollars in addition to relying on general funds to cover the increased costs. The fund balance dipped below 5%, which is not sustainable for maintaining District operations and payroll. The School Board policy states that the District shall maintain a fund balance of 6%-12%.

    The reason it is important to adhere to the fund balance policy is because when the fund balance is too low, the district must cut programs and borrow money, with interest, in order to pay staff salaries and benefits. The School Board and District Administration are committed to managing school finances responsibly while balancing the need for student programming and comparable staff contracts.

    Each year, an external independent firm conducts a thorough audit of the District's financial management. The December 12, 2023, public audit presentation can be viewed by clicking on this link.

    The charts below were created by the MMKR Public Accounting Firm who completed their independent audit of the District in December 2023.

    The charts from the independent audit show that Columbia Heights Public Schools: 

    • Made efforts to rebound and restore the fund balance and is on track to make a full recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 
    • The fund balance continues to be below the state average. 
    • Receives less funding from local taxpayers when compared to the Metro Area and when compared to the State of MN. 
    • Spends less money on administrators when compared to the Metro Area and when compared to the State of MN. 
    • Spends more money on teachers and non-administrator staff when compared to the Metro Area and when compared to the State of MN.

    Statewidefinance

    *Note: Statewide information is not available for fiscal 2023. 


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    The fiscal year 2023 Audited Comprehensive Financial Report is posted to the District's website at the following link: 

    Administrative Departments / Financial Reports (colheights.k12.mn.us)

CHPS Expenditures by Category, 2022-23 School Year

  • chpsexpenditures

    Source: MMKR Public Accounting Firm 

Mid-Career Comparison Compensation Package

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Class Sizes

  • As of January 1, 2024, the average class sizes in Columbia Heights Public Schools are shown below.

    Grade

     Number of Students

    PreK 4

     18 

    K

     20 

    Grade 1

    25 

    Grade 2

    24 

    Grade 3

    25 

    Grade 4

    25 

    Grade 5

    26 

    Middle School

    Overall: 25.6

    Core subjects (General Ed Math, English, Social Studies, Science): 24.2

    Elective subjects (Click here to view 2023-24 CA Electives): 34.4

    High School

    Overall: 21.0

    Core subjects (General Ed Math, English, Social Studies, Science): 24.2

    Elective subjects (Click here to view 2023-24 CHHS Electives): 27.2

    Source: Synergy Student Information System

CHPS Student Demographics

Negotiations Updates (This is a summary of the meetings but does not provide comprehensive details)

  • There was a negotiations meeting on August 7, 2023

    On August 18, 2023, the District presented Local #710 with the initial financial proposal: 

    • A 7.4% increase for a total cost of $1,911,868.67 in the teacher’s total package, which includes salary and benefits.  Note, this increase does not include the 71 proposals made by the union that the District responded to.

    On August 21, 2023:

    • The District and Local #710 met. The Local # 710 Teachers Union did not present a response to the financial proposal from the District. Discussions were had on work load, duties, peer reviewers, counselors and sick days. 

    On September 25, 2023:

    • The District and Local #710 Teachers Union met. Discussions were had on the extracurricular schedule. The Local #710 did not have a formal response to the financial proposal. The Local #710 gave a verbal response of a salary increase of 3% in year one and an increase of 6% in year two (assuming the passage of the operational levy). The District responded that if the levy passes, a 6% increase in year two is not within the District’s financial means.

    On November 28, 2023:

    • Local #710 countered with a 16.32% increase in the teacher's total package, which includes a 4% increase on salary in year one and an 8% increase on salary in year two, plus benefits. 

      • Discussions were had on increases to visual arts stipends, mentoring stipends, multi-level class stipends, career recognition (longevity), leadership team stipends, sick leave buy back.

    • District responded with an 8.36% increase for a total cost of $2,156,946.44 in the teacher’s total package, which includes salary (2% and 2.25%) and benefits.

      • Additional funds at Step 1 and Step 17.

      • Lump Sum of $500 for every teacher who has completed five years.

      • 60/40 split on benefits.

      • Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on extracurriculars.

    On December 7, 2023:

    • Local #710 countered with 3.5% and 7.5%. This proposal equates to a 15% total package and did not include the other financial asks. Discussions were had on adding Early Childhood Teachers to the Salary Schedule A/C, Special Education and Counselors. 

    On December 20, 2023:

    • The District and Local #710 Teachers Union met. 

      • The District presented the major points from the 2023 external Audit.

      • The District shared the costings of some of the larger Local #710 proposals: 

    Costings of Four of the Larger Local #710 Financial Proposals

     Year One (2023-24)

    Salary (3.5% increase)/Benefits/Extras 

    $1,934,979.62

    Includes Early Childhood Teachers

    Additional English Learner Teachers based on a student to teacher ratio formula 

    $2,100,000

    Additional Special Education Teachers based on a student to teacher ratio formula 

    $802,000

    Addition of Seven Academic Counselors 

    $875, 000

    Total Year One Local #710 Proposals 

    $6,275,000 

    • The Year One proposal by Local #710 would result in a -4.46% Fund Balance. 

    Costings of the Local #710 Financial Proposals

     Year Two (2024-25)

    Salary (7.5% increase)/Benefits/Extras 

    $2,669,227.82

    Includes Early Childhood Teachers

    • The Year Two proposal by Local #710 would result in a -17.78% Fund Balance. 

      • The District proposed a total package increase of $2,257,558.97 (8.75%) which included wage increase of 2% and 3%, benefits and a lump sum payment at Step and at Step 17. This proposal would keep the District within the School Board Policy with a projected fund balance of 8.8% in 2025. 

      • The District asked Local #710 to prioritize their asks.

        • Local #710 confirmed their number one priority is to add Early Childhood teachers to Salary Schedule A/C.

      • Local #710 proposed moving to a four-day school week. 

      • The two parties came to a Tentative Agreement on a Memorandum of Understanding to create a Columbia Academy Schedule Committee.

      • The two parties came to a Tentative Agreement on a Memorandum of Understanding to create an Extra Curricular Activities Committee.

      • The District asked for the financial response at the next meeting to prepare for a closed session with the School Board on January 9, 2024.

    On December 22, 2023:

    • Local #710 filed for mediation with the Bureau of Mediation Services and notified the District on January 3, 2024.

    On January 8, 2024:

    • The District offered an increase of 9.5% in the total package, which would result in a fund balance of approximately 7.9% in 2025. The offer was presented in five different scenarios, which included a mix of various wage increases, benefits packages, adding Early Childhood Teachers to the salary schedule and other financial proposals.

      District Proposal Scenario A

      District Proposal Scenario B

        Early Childhood 3 teachers (Salary Schedule)

        Wage increases

      • Steps 1-16 Year 1: 2% | Year 2: 3%
      • Step 17 Year 1: 2.25% | Year 2: 4.5%

        Career Recognition

      • After completion of 15th year: $1500
      • After completion of 20th year: $2500

        Insurance: No increases in District contribution

        Tentative Estimated increase in Extra Curriculars/Schedule D TBD% in year 2

        Note:

      • Average step & lane roll up costs equate to 2% annually
      • Total package: 9.5%
      • Projected Fund Balance (end of Year 2): 7.9%

        Early Childhood 3 teachers (Salary Schedule)

        Wage increases

      • All Steps Year 1: 2.25% | Year 2: 3.75%

        Insurance: 

      • District contribution - Single Year 1: $791.44 | Year 2: $819.14
      • District contribution - Family Year 1: $1959.36 | Year 2: $2027.94

      Tentative Estimated increase in Extra Curriculars/Schedule D TBD% in year 2

        Note:

      • Average step & lane roll up costs equate to 2% annually
      • Total package: 9.5%
      • Projected Fund Balance (end of Year 2): 7.9%

      District Proposal Scenario C

      District Proposal Scenario D

        Early Childhood 3 teachers (Salary Schedule)

        Wage increases

      • All Steps Year 1: 2.95% | Year 2: 4.35%

        Insurance: No increases in District contribution

        Tentative Estimated increase in Extra Curriculars/Schedule D TBD% in year 2

        Note:

      • Average step & lane roll up costs equate to 2% annually
      • Total package: 9.5%
      • Projected Fund Balance (end of Year 2): 7.9%

        Early Childhood 3 teachers (Salary Schedule)

        Wage increases

      • All Steps Year 1: 2% | Year 2: 2.1%

        Career Recognition

      • After completion of 15th year: $1500
      • After completion of 20th year: $2500

        Insurance: 

      • District contribution - Single Year 1: $780.00 | Year 2: $780.00
      • District contribution - Family Year 1: $1931.10 | Year 2: $1931.10

        District hires four counselors ($490,000) for Year 2

        Tentative Estimated increase in Extra Curriculars/Schedule D TBD% in year 2

        Note:

      • Average step & lane roll up costs equate to 2% annually
      • Total package: 9.5%
      • Projected Fund Balance (end of Year 2): 7.9%

      District Proposal Scenario E

        Early Childhood 3 teachers (Salary Schedule)

        Wage increases

      • All Steps Year 1: 2% | Year 2: 3.6%

        Career Recognition

      • Year 2 after completion of 20th year in the District: $2000
      • Year 2 after completion of 25th year in the District: $3000

        Insurance: 

      • District contribution - Single Year 1: $805.00 | Year 2: $825.13
      • District contribution - Family Year 1: $2002.75 | Year 2: $2052.94
      • Single (89% District, 11% Teacher) Family (85% District, 15% Teacher)

        Deferred Comp (403b)

      • 3-7 | $1025
      • 8-10 | $1250
      • >11 | $1400

        Tentative Estimated increase in Extra Curriculars/Schedule D TBD% in year 2

        Note:

      • Average step & lane roll up costs equate to 2% annually
      • Total package: 9.5%
      • Projected Fund Balance (end of Year 2): 7.9%
    • The Local #710 final proposal's financial costs:

      • Year 1: 3.25% (This is the proposed increase on the same step and lane. There is an additional salary increase as teachers advance "steps" with each year of teaching and an additional salary increase as teachers advance "lanes" with further education)

      • Year 2: 6.25% (This is the proposed increase on the same step and lane. There is an additional salary increase as teachers advance "steps" with each year of teaching and an additional salary increase as teachers advance "lanes" with further education)
      • Year 1: Total Package = 6.12% ($1,578,504) (Total package includes the salary increase and benefits for a teacher)

      • Year 2: Total Package = 8.27% ($2,264,267) (Total package includes the salary increase and benefits for a teacher)
      • Total Two-Year Contract Package: 14.89% ($3,842,770)

      • Projected Fund Balance End of Year 2 = 2.0%

    On February 9, 2024:

    • Local #710 and the District met for mediation.
    • Columbia Heights Public Schools and Columbia Heights Federation of Teachers Local #710 have reached a tentative agreement which will need to be ratified by Local #710 and approved by the CHPS Board of Education.

    On February 14, 2024:

    • Local #710 ratified the tentative agreement for the 2023-2025 Master Agreement with CHPS ISD#13.

    On February 20, 2024:

    •  CHPS Board of Education will take formal action of the 2023-2025 Master Agreement with CHPS ISD#13.

Frequently Asked Questions

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2023-2024 Teacher Negotiation Meeting Dates

  • May 30, 2023 - 3:45 p.m.

    June 22, 2023 - 1:30 p.m.

    June 28, 2023 - 1:30 p.m.

    August 7, 2023 - 1:30 p.m.

    August 14, 2023 - 1:30 p.m.

    August 18, 2023 - 12:30 p.m.

    August 21, 2023 - 1:30 p.m.

    September 25, 2023 - 3:45 p.m.

    November 28, 2023 - 3:45 p.m.

    December 7, 2023 - 4:00 p.m.

    December 20, 2023 - 4:00 p.m.

    January 8, 2024 - 4:00 p.m.

    February 9, 2024 - Mediation Meeting with the Bureau of Mediation Services

     



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