A-A teacher’s union reaches an agreement

Friday, April 12, 2019

The Alta-Aurelia Education Association has accepted the district’s proposal, accepting a 2.19 percent base wage increase after an initial February request for 4.59 percent.

The base wage increase of $1,000 will also come at the cost of removing all steps in the salary schedule, however. Current Educational Lanes will remain a part of the schedule. The total package increase, taking FICA, IPERS and insurance obligations into account amounts to 1.99 percent.

The counter offer comes after the school board’s initial rejection offered a $0 increase, pending State Supplemental Aid (allowable growth) numbers from the state legislature, which came in at a similar number, at 2.06 percent.

The base wage increase will add $68,700 in liabilities to the school’s payroll obligations for the next school year, a total package increase of $88,247.

Teachers in the district received an $850 base wage increase during last year’s negotiations.

Storm Lake teachers received a 3.5 percent total package increase to fund and age their 2019-2020 salary schedule, with a base salary increase of $747, a 2.2 percent increase. Newell-Fonda teachers settled for a $725 base salary increase, a 3.5 percent raise.

With new union rules limiting the topics on the negotiating table and SSA increases consistently coming in at less than the rate of inflation, 2 percent and lower raises for teachers may be the new normal.

Most education advocates asked for 3 percent to keep up with rising costs and new school expectations.

Superintendent Lynn Evans said previously that amount is still not enough to keep up with a rut of 1 percent increases that have amounted to half the cost of inflation.

“Two percent still falls way short of what schools need,” he said, telling the Pilot-Tribune that school districts have had to contend over the last 15 years with what he calls the “lowest funding period we’ve had for schools, on average, in history,” for as far back as the numbers have been documented.

The lackluster increases over the last decade have hit rural districts with flat or declining enrollment particularly hard, effectively giving them a negative increase in their budget, per-pupil, with population losses.

Supplemental State Aid (formerly known as “allowable growth”) set in eight of the last nine years has lagged behind the historical annual cost increase of educating students.

In that context, this raise would be the third highest SSA experienced by school districts in 10 years, barely breaking above the 1.9 percent cost increase estimated for fiscal year 2020 by Iowa’s Revenue Estimating Conference.