Helena Public Schools reaches tentative contract agreement with teachers' union

Helena Public Schools
Posted at 3:32 PM, Mar 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-04 11:26:09-05

HELENA — Helena Public Schools leaders announced Thursday that they’ve reached a tentative contract agreement with the union that represents district teachers.

The two-year contract with the Helena Education Association would include a 1.5% pay increase for teachers this school year and next year – and if district voters approve the levies leaders are putting on the ballot this spring, the increase will go up to 3% the second year. The district will also take on a share of the health care cost increases employees face through 2025.

“Our teachers do more than ever,” said Helena Public Schools Superintendent Rex Weltz. “These are difficult jobs in difficult times, and we wanted to respect what they do and honor what they do and value what they do.”

The contract still has to be ratified by HEA members and approved by school board trustees. District leaders say they’ll release more details once the language is finalized.

Weltz said negotiators on both sides worked hard through a process aimed at finding consensus, and he’s proud of what they were able to do together.

“That tenor around the two teams that became one, really – we had a district side and an HEA side, and at the end of the process, we really were one unit working for kids,” he said. “I think the vibe, the tenor of the organization has changed just over the last few days.”

HEA President Jane Shawn echoed that in a statement shared by the district.

“The consensus process, led by a third-party facilitator, enabled us to break down some long-standing barriers and move forward as a group,” she said. “The process really allowed this work to happen. The end result was not only a stronger contract, but a stronger relationship between our administration and educators.”