r.richardson@mchsi.com

Iowa teacher salary dollars go unspent

Randy Richardson, retired associate executive director of the Iowa State Education Association, has closely followed contract negotiations in public schools for many years. -promoted by Laura Belin

This is the time of the year when “bargaining season” wraps up for Iowa’s teachers. Under the collective bargaining law in place for more than 40 years, most local unions would have either reached a voluntary agreement with their school board or be headed to mediation, or possibly arbitration.

Unfortunately, the bargaining law enacted in 2017 has changed this pattern. Now, local teacher groups can only bargain their base salaries and have limited abilities to seek help through the arbitration process. Consequently, many school boards across the state are offering teachers “one-time” increases in pay with no advancement on a salary schedule. Those increases are often so little that when combined with the additional costs of health insurance, many teachers will be taking home less money in 2019-20 than they did this year.

School officials will say that minimal pay raises stem mainly from a lack of state government support. They are correct that Iowa schools have received historically small increases in state funding over the last eight years. However, some school districts have managed to accumulate a large “pot” of money that can only be spent on teacher salaries, and for some reason, they aren’t spending it.

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Show me the money: Is your school district hoarding cash? (updated)

Exclusive reporting by Randy Richardson on Iowa school districts that have accumulated excessive cash reserves. -promoted by Laura Belin

The last eight years haven’t been kind to Iowa’s public school districts. During that time the Supplemental State Aid (the money local districts can spend on their regular program budgets) has been on a downward trend — from a 4 percent increase in fiscal year 2010 to a 1.8 percent average increase over the last eight years. Many school districts have been forced to tighten their belts by laying off staff or giving out smaller pay raises.

However, a few Iowa districts have found a way to spend far less of their resources and have accumulated huge savings during this time period.

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Iowa’s defense of (whose) marriage act

Randy Richardson spotlights a terrible (and likely unconstitutional) bill whose sponsor has previously proposed other wacky ideas related to marriage and divorce. -promoted by Laura Belin

I volunteer for a group called Iowans for Public Education, following the legislature to see what bills impact education. As I went through bills introduced at the last minute in an effort to beat the first major legislative deadline, a non-education bill caught my eye.

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County election maps don’t tell the whole story

Randy Richardson comments on the outcome in Iowa’s third Congressional district. -promoted by desmoinesdem

During the 2016 presidential election. I began to notice that several news channels made extensive use of county maps to explain election results. Following the 2018 midterm elections, several Iowa newspapers used similar maps to highlight the rural/urban split in election results.

However, those maps tend to give a skewed view of the election.

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Smaller districts more likely to strip optional items from teacher contracts

Randy Richardson, retired associate executive director of the Iowa State Education Association, has closely followed contract negotiations in Iowa public schools for many years. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Since the 2017 passage of a Republican bill to strip collective bargaining rights from public employees, a little more than 8,000 teachers (out of a total of just over 36,000 statewide) in 107 school districts have lost the benefits and rights they enjoyed in their master contracts.

The new law allowed districts to remove items that were deemed “permissive” from collective bargaining agreements. That included such topics as leaves, grievance procedure, and in-service days. Many of those items had been bargained years ago and had been in master contracts for well over 30 years.

I thought it might be worthwhile to see if these districts had any commonalities.

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What’s up with the Iowa Association of School Boards?

Randy Richardson, retired associate executive director of the Iowa State Education Association, connects some dots. -promoted by desmoinesdem

The very first sentence on the “About” page of the Iowa Association of School Boards (IASB) website reads, “Since 1946, the Iowa Association of School Boards has been committed to serving Iowa school boards and public schools.” However, public school employees may begin to wonder given some of the organization’s recent actions.

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