District 622 Teachers Show Displeasure at Board's Failure to Renegotiate Contract: No. 4 Post of 2012

One of the most read posts of the 2012 included the school board negotiating contracts with teachers.

Oakdale Patch covered a lot of different stories, topics and events throughout 2012, but there were a few that stood out as the most read by Patch users.

We’ll be sharing the top 10 posts of the year from Oakdale Patch in days following up to the end of 2012. Share your thoughts on the stories in comments below.

The following is the No. 4 post of 2012.

Jan. 26, 2012 - With their contract expired since June 30—and their pay frozen at 2010-11 levels—more than 100 angry teachers descended on the District 622 school board meeting Tuesday, Jan. 24, in a show of force organized by the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale teachers union.

Educators raised signs that read, “My colleague can’t make it tonight … they are working their second job” and a ripple of applause followed union board member Dennis Fendt’s proclamation that the board has “balanced the fund balance on the backs of teachers.”

“There’s no legal deadline for the board to make a new contract,” Fendt said, noting that recent legislation eliminated the Jan. 15 deadline for districts to reach agreements with teachers in order to avoid a $25 per-student penalty. “In the meantime, teachers are struggling to pay the bills.”

Tammy Worden, a math teacher at Tartan High School, said that due to inflation and rising health care costs, she now takes home less money than she did five years ago.

“I picked up night school and summer school classes so I could pay the bills,” she said. “I literally worked myself into a coma in 2009—I was hospitalized for two months and living on life support, and following that I had three more months of intense rehabilitation, but I went back to work after all that.”

Jennifer George, an algebra teacher at North High School for six years, started tearing up during her statement to the board.

“Because of the decrease in pay this year and loss of a second job, I was forced to sell my home,” she said. “I live very frugally I have no TV, no cable bill, no Internet, no computer at home. I want nothing more than to teach math the rest of my career and I hope I can afford to do so.”

Jennifer Lundgren, of Maplewood, is a special education teacher at Skyview Middle School.

“When my dad asked ‘Are you crazy?’ when I spent $20,000 on a master’s degree that earned me $2,000 a year more, I said ‘Yes,’” she said. “We are the ones that come in early, that stay late, we give up our prep time, our lunch time and our family time, and we do that willingly for our students. In return we want a fair contract.”

Dana Pederson, a special education teacher at Tartan, said she works an average of 65 hours a week and takes home $700 less a month in than she did five years ago, partially due to the unsettled contract.

“Many high school students say being a teacher is the last thing that they would want to do given the lack of pay, lack of respect, the amount of work and high probability they would need to work another job on the side,” she said. “Teachers are typically the persona of Minnesota Nice, but with this recent proposal, morale is the lowest I’ve ever seen it.”


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