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Sasha Wohlpart

Wohlpart

CEDAR FALLS — Contracts with two bargaining groups were approved Monday by the Board of Education following contentious negotiations in recent months that spilled into public meetings.

One-year wage agreements starting July 1 with the Cedar Falls Education Association and the Chauffeurs, Teamsters and Helpers Local 238 boost compensation by 2.25 and 2.64 percent, respectively. That includes increased costs for Social Security and Medicare taxes paid by Cedar Falls Community Schools plus its retirement plan contributions. Both also include two-year agreements on other contract language.

Additionally, the board approved wage and benefit agreements with administrators and nonbargaining staff.

Teachers and their supporters filled the room at two board meetings in April and May after district officials proposed a minimal raise along with stripping their contract of most provisions and shifting them to a handbook. Administrators similarly proposed removing most items from the Teamsters contract. The proposals were made possible by revisions in state law a year ago that restrict public employee bargaining rights.

Officials also struggled to settle the Teamsters union contact, which went to mediation last month.

“I would like to acknowledge all of the work that went into agreements that we approved tonight,” said board member Sasha Wohlpart. “Thank you for that work and thank you for your sacrifice.”

“Everyone out there was willing to talk about the difficulties the district was having, from both sides,” added board member Joyce Coil.

The education association represents 430 teachers, guidance counselors, librarians, nurses and special resources staff. The Teamsters union represents 47 custodial staff, groundskeepers, delivery drivers, laundry and warehouse workers, plumbers, painters, carpenters, technicians, and electricians.

Base wages for the Teamsters union will grow by 25 cents per hour for all classifications except one, which will receive a 40-cent per hour raise. Returning employees will also receive an increase of 35 cents per hour.

The teacher’s contract allows advancement on the salary schedule for another year of experience and completing additional education. It includes no raise in base wages.

Adding insurance into the total costs decreases the impact on the district to 1.88 percent for the education association and 1.57 percent for the Teamsters union.

“We don’t typically calculate (total package) anymore, but it’s what people are used to,” said Superintendent Andy Pattee. Insurance is excluded from bargaining under the new state law. The Teamsters group will see increases in premiums and a higher deductible while the teachers group will have a higher deductible.

Other provisions the district agreed to keep at least in part for the education association contract include grievance procedures, a sick leave bank, leaves of absence, association leave and service year information.

The board approved no increase in salaries for district administrators. Twenty building and associate principals as well as central office directors are included but not the superintendent, whose salary will be set later by the board. Based on insurance benefits and retirement plan contributions, the total package increase is 0.64 percent.

Pattee said he made the recommendation due to a “very low” increase in supplemental state aid of 1 percent.

“It’s been tough when we look at the budget and what’s been provided to us by the Legislature,” he noted. “This is something that we know is an important step, an important component, especially as we face a challenging year.”

Non-bargaining employees will receive an average wage and benefit increase of 1.64 percent. This group includes approximately 70 secretarial-clerical staff, information technology service technicians, bus garage mechanics, bus drivers, coordinators, managers and supervisors. They will also be paying higher insurance premiums and deductibles.

In other business, the board approved:

  • A $140,850 contract with Presidio Inc., of Edina, Minn., to install Digium telephone system equipment district wide. That was the lowest of three bids with others totaling $144,859 and $146,756. The current phone system was installed in 2003-04.
  • A $183,600 contract with Erb’s Technology of Cedar Rapids for 850 Dell 3180 Chromebooks, Google Chrome operating systems and installation/setup services. It was the lowest of three bids with others totaling $205,785 and $216,962. The computers will be issued to incoming seventh- and 10th-graders.
  • A $186,669 contract with CDW-G of Vernon Hills, Ill., for technology network equipment, the lowest of two complete bids. The other was for $267,093 while two more companies didn’t provide pricing on all items. This is the second year of a two-year process to purchase new computer network switches, wireless access points and other technology support. The equipment will be installed in Aldrich, North Cedar and Orchard Hill elementary schools.
  • Personnel appointments, including 11 new teacher and counselor contracts for next fall and nine resignations. In addition, Ethan Wiechmann was appointed the high school’s interim associate principal with a salary of $87,000. Currently, he is a math teacher and heads the Center for Advanced Professional Studies program.
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Education Reporter

Education reporter for the Courier

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