Bismarck teacher contract negotiations are drawing to a close after district officials and the teachers union met last week and came to an agreement over salaries and establishing a new safety committee.

Members of the Bismarck Education Association have until the end of the week to approve the new teacher contract, according to Lisa Kudelka, the district’s lead negotiator and human resources manager at Bismarck Public Schools.

The Bismarck Education Association wanted safe workplace language added to teacher contracts. This would include how the district responds to violence against teachers and staff.

Instead, both sides agreed to establish a new safety committee, following a recommendation made by the North Dakota Fact-Finding Commission, which was tasked with helping the teachers union and district reach an agreement. The commission released a report last month that called for the creation of a safety committee.

The district already has a policy in place on safety, but a new administrative rule will be added to outline the work of the new committee.

“We specifically put in the language that really came out of what the Fact-Finding Commission recommended on having a safety committee that will be made up of four members from the BEA and then four district-appointed members," said Kudelka, adding district officials will work to get the administrative rule in place this month.

After that, the committee would be established within 30 days, and it will meet at least monthly, she said.

Kudelka said both sides agreed to a two-year contract with increasing salaries. They were at odds on second-year wages, but, after the BEA team saw the district's budget for that year, they agreed to go with the district's proposal.

The Bismarck School Board will approve the new teacher contract at its meeting next week after the BEA does, Kudelka said.

(Reach Blair Emerson at 701-250-8251 or Blair.Emerson@bismarcktribune.com)

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