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Cedar Falls School Board member opposes one-year teacher contract
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Cedar Falls School Board member opposes one-year teacher contract

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CEDAR FALLS — Teachers had already ratified their contract, but it was opposed this week by a Board of Education member who preferred a multi-year agreement.

Nate Gruber balked at approving the pact with the Cedar Falls Education Association after previously raising the concern. The contract covers 456 teachers, guidance counselors, librarians, nurses and special resources staff. Approval of negotiated staff agreements is typically noncontroversial for the Cedar Falls Community Schools’ board.

“I am disappointed to see again that we are working with a single-year contract and not a two- or three-year contract, especially in these times of uncertainty,” said Gruber.

“I mentioned last year that I would like to see the district and the CFEA find consensus on a multi-year contract,” he added. “And because we are once again building on a single-year agreement, I will be a ‘no.’”

Gruber suggested that it’s now “even more important for us to stay competitive in maintaining and recruiting the best educators. I don’t think these year-to-year agreements do much to assure our teachers and staff that we’re committed to them.”

American flags to honor Sgt. Jim Smith line Second Ave NE in Independence on Wednesday. Volunteers set up 2,000 flags throughout the Iowa State Patrol officer's hometown.

District officials said there were reasons the two sides arrived at a one-year contract.

“That’s why we go through the negotiations process,” said Superintendent Andy Pattee. “Certainly, this was approved by the association and (that is) why we’re recommending it to the board.”

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“I made it clear that we were not opposed to a multi-year agreement,” said Adrian Talbot, director of human resources and leader of the district’s bargaining team. “I indicated that I was interested in discussing a mechanism by which the expense and cost of the second-year agreement be negotiated through the process.” However, he doesn’t favor a second year “where there is no end to financial implications” of the contract.

Board member Jenny Leeper said the risk is a second year where supplemental state aid is too low to sustain the contract. “It could come back the next year at zero,” she said.

Talbot noted that there were multi-year agreements with the association from 2005 to 2009.

“I continued to be interested in that process,” he said. “But at a certain point it became something that the CFEA was no longer interested in pursuing because they did not think it was in the interest of their members.”

The total salary and non-insurance benefit increase for the contract starting July 1 is 3.08%. That includes a $515 boost to the base wage and movement on the salary schedule for current employees. There were also adjustments to the base wage generator for department chairs as well as coaching and other extracurricular duties.

Current starting pay for teachers with a bachelor’s degree and zero to three years of professional experience is $42,025. Pay at the top of the salary schedule for those with a master’s degree plus 45 credits is $85,699.

The contract was approved 6-1 with Gruber dissenting.

In other business, the board approved:

  • Redemption of outstanding 2013 sales tax revenue bonds, using the 10% reserve fund as part of the money to do so. A total of $9.95 million was issued for the Hansen and Southdale elementary school remodeling projects and $1.91 million of what’s left will be repaid at this time. “It is recommended that we issue the final payment two years early saving the district approximately $50,000 in interest,” said Denelle Gonnerman, chief financial officer.
  • Piper Sandler of Des Moines as the placement agent or underwriter for the $32.9 million in sales tax bonds that will be used in construction of the new high school.
  • The 2021-22 academic year calendar. The first day of school will be Aug. 23 and classes are scheduled to end May 27.
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Education Reporter

I cover local schools and higher education for The Courier, where I’ve been a reporter for the past two decades. I’m a Minnesota native and have previously worked for newspapers there and in Illinois.

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