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Teachers in the Blaine County School District voted late last week to ratify the district’s 2021-22 master agreement, making the agreed-upon updates official.

About 58% of the 188 certified staff members who cast votes on the agreement approved of the changes negotiated by the district and representatives from the Blaine County Education Association, according to BCEA President John Thomas. Thirty-nine percent of voting BCEA members were opposed to the 2021-22 agreement, and 2% abstained. The results were announced in a social media post by the BCEA late Thursday afternoon.

The agreement had already been formally approved by the Blaine County School District board of trustees through a unanimous vote the previous Tuesday evening. Both votes followed weeks of at-times tense negotiations.

“We are appreciative of all the BCEA members, district staff and board members who worked to reach this agreement,” Superintendent Fritz Peters said in a statement prior to the ratification. “We look forward to taking the next step in the process.”

The 2021-22 agreement was ratified by a considerably smaller margin than the 2020-21 agreement the previous year, which was approved by 88% of 196 voting BCEA members.

Conditions of the 2021-22 agreement include the district’s paying for increases in insurance costs for employees and making a one-time payment of $750 to each certified staff member.

Negotiations took place over the course of six sessions, beginning in late April and concluding on Thursday, May 27. The negotiations were briefly delayed by the postponement of the two final sessions, initially scheduled to take place on May 13 and 19.

Email the writer: gkauffman@mtexpress.com

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