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The Bismarck teachers union and the school district have reached a tentative agreement that includes salary increases and a promise to continue discussions related to classroom safety.

Both sides agreed to a 2% salary increase this upcoming school year and a 2.25% increase the following year, according to Mike Crouse, a technical education instructor at Wachter Middle School and lead negotiator for the Bismarck Education Association.

The teachers union initially proposed a 4% increase each year, but Crouse said he believes the final number is fair.

"I think this is a good compromise and it seemed like everybody was happy with it," he said.

On average, teachers in the first year would see about a $1,200 increase, but some could get more or less based on the district's salary schedule.

The school district and the teacher's union met for the fifth time on Wednesday to negotiate. Crouse said one topic they were "hung up on" involved classroom safety.

This year, the teachers union brought forth a proposal that covered compensation for teachers injured by students at school, the cost of damage to personal property, as well as involving teachers in policy discussions regarding safety.

Crouse said they ultimately agreed to turn the proposal into a "sidebar" discussion between the teachers union and district administrators. The teachers union and district administrators already meet monthly and have agreed to address these topics at future meetings.

"What we hope to happen is information will be collected on how many (teachers) are getting things damaged, what is the cost to the district (and) what would a plan involving something like this look like in the future," he said.

Crouse said both sides looked at data on the number of Bismarck teachers attacked and injured in the past two years, which is when data started to be collected, and found that the number of incidents have decreased.

"There is evidence that it has improved," he said, adding that he hopes safety discussions will continue.

The teachers union has not yet scheduled a meeting to ratify the agreement, which would then go to the Bismarck School Board for approval.

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

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