Kalispell teachers get new three-year contract

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Kalispell Public Schools teachers have a new, three-year contract that includes a 2.35 percent increase on the base salary for the 2014-15 school year.

The contract begins July 1 and goes through June 30, 2017.

The contract affects 419 people represented by the Kalispell Education Association. Currently the median teacher’s salary in Kalispell is $48,347. The base salary is $28,972.

For the 2015-16 school year, teachers get a 2.25 percent increase on the base salary and a 2 percent increase in the final year, 2016-17. District health insurance contributions will remain at $525 per month through the duration of the contract.

Teachers with applicable experience and education also will receive automatic salary increases.

Changes were also made to contract language on teacher evaluations to reflect new state standards. Kalispell Education Association President Mike Thiel said Kalispell Public Schools, however, has been at the forefront of teacher evaluation reform, putting many of the standards into practice over the last seven years.

Evaluations have evolved, Thiel said, from a “checklist” to more thorough performance-based assessments. Teachers produce portfolios of their work and are evaluated not only on teaching skills in the classroom but also skills such as professionalism.

Union members approved the contract by a vote of 324 to 8, Thiel said. School trustees unanimously approved the contract Tuesday.

Superintendent Darlene Schottle said the negotiation process was very positive.

Under the existing contract, which ends June 30, association members had received 1.5 percent increases and prior to that accepted a pay freeze on their base salary.

Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or by email at hmatheson@dailyinterlake.com

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