The teachers of St. James Public Schools approved a new two-year contract November 4, a process that must be undertaken every two years. Lee Carlson, president of Education Minnesota--St. James, said the union has a team of negotiators, led by John Wilson, but teachers are active “on the front end” giving guidance to the negotiating team about their needs and desires. “The teachers are responsible for everything in the contract, and it's your livelihood, so they've become more active with the negotiators.” Carlson added that most of the negotiations centered around health insurance--“what the district will contribute toward a plan, and what options we'll have with those”--but the Affordable Care Act had very little affect positively or negatively. There were also many more new teachers/members than usual, about a dozen, this year. Sick leave was also adjusted to be more inclusive in the new deal, with more family members or relatives being covered, he said. “This brings us in line with current Minnesota statutes.” Furthermore, teachers are putting more hours in at school under the new deal, he said. “It's not just about looking at the clock, but about getting your work done (however long it takes).” For the full story, see Thursday's print edition of the St.James Plaindealer.