Nearly 50 of Lakeville's teachers packed the Jan. 10 School Board meeting in an ongoing effort to get a contract between the teacher's union and the School Board approved.
Lakeville's teachers have been , and negotiations have stalled out due to a battle over healthcare premiums, which the district is looking to increase.
One of the many speakers to talk directly to the board was Brian Vossen, a teacher at and 's varsity football coach.
"If we haven’t lost enough, now we have to fight for our healthcare," he said, referencing the 216 teachers that have been let go since 2007 due to budget cuts.
"Settle the contract. Give us the healthcare we deserve," he pleaded.
Teachers have been rallying at board meetings for a number of months, pushing for a contract approval.
Rebecca Chamberlain, a social studies teacher at , praised her colleagues for "shouldering the load" while hundreds of teachers have been cut over recent years.
"(There have been) 216 teachers cut since 2007, yet we have the same number of students," she said. She also pointed to teachers waiving millions in staff development dollars over recent years, lowering the renewal rate on healthcare, and taking soft pay freezes in recent contracts, all while increasing student achievement, and other academic measures.
"In the business world, this would be rewarded," she said.
The teacher's union, Education Minnesota Lakeville, and the Lakeville School Board have met a number of times to negotiate a pact, but EML President Don Sinner says the disagreements seem to be a matter of philosophy.
Not only does the district want to is also a stumbling block.
"We have many, many teachers in the high school ranks teaching 210 kids and more during their day, whereas before that it used to be in the 150-170 range. That’s a tremendous workload increase," Sinner said at a previous board meeting.
Currently, teachers have 275 minutes of prep time a week, which isn't enough, according to Sinner, for teachers who have watched class sizes increase with the layoffs of 16.5 percent of the teaching staff over the past five years.
Members of the School Board declined to comment for this story because negotiations are still ongoing.