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Teachers set for meeting before vote on ratification

After months of negotiations, the Holland Teachers Association was scheduled to hold a ratification meeting today to consider the administration's latest contract offer.

School Superintendent Garry F. Stone declined to discuss details during the School Board meeting Monday night, but association President Linda DiPietro-Herraez said she was optimistic.

"We've been working on this for a long time. I think everyone will be quite pleased," DiPietro-Herraez said. "The mediator helped make us both see the other's point of view. That was the hardest thing."

The teachers have been without a contract since June 30, 2004. The 105-member association will vote on the package Thursday, Stone said.

Also, the board got its first glimpse at the preliminary 2006-07 budget, which assumes ratification of the teachers pact. The spending plan features a 4 percent increase in expenditures.

Douglas R. Scofield, business manager for the school district, said that more than half of the proposed increase is because of rising fuel costs.

"It's very close to a contingency budget without actually being at a contingency level," Stone said.

In addition, benefit costs would have been much higher if the teachers union had not agreed to some concessions, the superintendent said.

In other business, the board approved the appointment of Daniel P. Dunn as superintendent of buildings and grounds, succeeding veteran Daniel H. Berry, who retires effective March 31.

Also, the board grappled with the idea of charging admission to the school's sporting events. Both Stone and Pat Marvin, director of athletics, said parents have asked why the district does not charge for watching games as some other schools do.

Board member Glenn W. Kline was staunchly opposed.

"I don't think we should charge," he said. "I don't care what other schools do. The only thing we're going to with the money is pay people working there."

He said sectional competitions are an exception because sectional policy dictates charging spectators a fee.

The board decided to continue its policy of not charging for attending athletic events.

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