KINGSTON — The school deliberative session breezed by last night in an hour with residents leaving warrant articles unchanged and School Board members urging support for the proposed teachers contract.

"They haven't had a pay raise in two years," board Chairman Kurt Baitz said. "This is a contract that really needs to be passed."

District voters defeated contract proposals the last two years.

This contract, a two-year proposal for about 192 teachers and other professional staff, requests a step increase in each of the next two school years except for those on the highest step — they would receive a stipend.

The increase comes to 3.2 percent in the first year and 3.3 percent in the second. There is no cost-of-living allowance for either year.

The estimated cost to Kingston taxpayers would be 53 cents per $1,000 of valuation in the first year and 42 cents in the second. The estimated cost to Newton taxpayers is 56 cents per $1,000 in the first year and 44 cents in the second.

The professional staff also agreed to contribute 10 percent of the cost of their annual health insurance premium for both years.

Only a few people spoke from the audience of about 125 people at Sanborn Regional High School. Kingston resident Roger Clark objected to the clause attached to contracts that would automatically renew expired collective bargaining agreements.

"That's a deal breaker for me," Clark said.

But Baitz responded that the clause is required by state law and the district has no control over it.

Furthermore, he said the teachers have bargained in good faith.

About 70 teachers and support staff attended the session. Later, Karen Ladd, president of the Sanborn Regional Education Association, said the teachers listened to the community's concerns and now they need support at the polls on March 9.

The proposed $30,495,649 operating budget for 2010-2011 is 2.1 percent higher than this year's budget of $29,865,982.


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