Burnsville High School

Burnsville High School.

The Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District and Burnsville Education Association reached a tentative contract agreement Monday, both parties announced.

“It was necessary to reach an agreement so educators could focus on our students as we are making the transition to long-term distance learning,” association President Wendy Drugge said in an email Tuesday, referring to this week’s school closures in response to the coronavirus.

Details of the tentative agreement wouldn’t be made public until the association’s executive board votes to ratify the agreement on Thursday, March 19.

One ratified, the agreement will go before the Board of Education for approval. There is no tentative date scheduled yet for the board’s vote.

The union represents approximately 665 licensed teachers, social workers and other staff.

“Negotiations may be over, but the members of the BEA are committed to continue to fight for the safe and welcoming schools our students deserve and better working conditions for its members,” Drugge said.

The district and unionized employees reach a new contract agreement every two years. Teachers have continued working under their contract that began July 1, 2017, and ended June 30, 2019.

The district and union began negotiating in September. They began mediation in February after more than a dozen regular negotiation meetings.

Last month, salary, benefits and several other contract items still remained on the negotiating table.

The district’s 2019-2020 budget planned for a union salary schedule increase of 1% each year, but the union’s proposal published Jan. 29 called for a 2.9% annual increase each year of the two-year contract.

The board is currently looking for $2.2 million in spending cuts, but the deficit will grow if the contract is settled with pay increases higher than the district’s proposal because the new contract will be retroactive and impact the 2019-2020 budget, too.

If the agreement lands on a raise bigger than 1%, officials would likely need to eliminate more staff, reduce programs or spend more of the reserve fund to balance the budget.

Spending cuts will be finalized in June.

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