Early salary negotiations show some school districts setting teacher salary increases well above the new money that’s set to come from the state. Len Cockman is the director of human resource services for the Iowa Association of School Boards.He says they’re hearing settlements of around four percent for the few settlements that’re in. He says there are still many school districts that haven’t reached an agreement yet. The school districts are set to get less than one percent of new money from the state, unless something changes in the legislature. Cockman says most school districts are waiting to finalize pay increases to see if more money might be available. He says so much depends on the Iowa legislature and when they make decisions. He says the “dominoes fall within the district” once lawmakers come to a decision. Cockman says the legislature’s decisions have come later and later every year. Cockman says those districts that set wage increases above the new money they’re getting will to work their budgets to find ways to fund them. He says layoffs is one way, but he says there are some school districts that have a cash reserve, or money that can use for this year’s negotiations. He says beyond that they then have to look at what they’re getting for money in the future. Cockman says it becomes a big balancing act for districts to hire teachers or make layoffs to meet the budget. He says it’s a huge problem to meet the needs with current staff, additional staff or less staff is always problematic. He says you always want to get the best person, so it’s a real domino effect in trying to fill all the positions. Republicans who control the legislature say they’ve set the funding at the level they can in tight budget times, but the governor and democrat legislators have continued to call for more education money for k-through-12 schools.
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