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TEACHERS OK 5% PAY RAISE; BOARD MAY VOTE SEPT. 12

Alpine School District's nearly 2,000 teachers are finally working under contract - at least on their part.

The teachers, who are members of the Alpine Education Association, overwhelmingly approved a tentative contract agreement this week, said Nile Miner, a teacher at Orchard Elementary in Orem and president of the AEA. The teachers' negotiating team actually reached an agreement with the district's negotiators on Aug. 21 - two days before classes started for all of the district's students and just a day before seventh-graders started classes.However, the agreement is still just an agreement in principle, since the Alpine School Board must also ratify the contract, and won't do so until the board's Sept. 12 meeting at the earliest.

Though exact terms won't be disclosed until the school board votes on it, Miner said the contract agreement will give the teachers a 5 percent increase in base pay - more than 1 percent more than their counterparts in the Provo and Nebo school districts received. It would also pay them for all the teaching and preparation days this school year, though their contracted salaries had not begun by the start of it.

"There's a very good money settlement and (we will) be getting the same insurance benefits (as last year)," Miner said.

Michael Robinson, the district's public relations spokesman, also said he was pleased that the two sides finally reached an agreement, although he cautioned that the deal was still subject to the board's whims.

Besides the base pay rate increase, teachers asked district officials to use money they saved when they switched insurance carriers for district employee salaries. With that money, the district was able to give the teachers the 5 percent base pay increase, which also was more than the 4 percent granted to school districts by the Legislature.