Tracking by the Iowa Association of Schoolboards shows about one third of the 359 school districts in the state have finalized teacher pay for the next school year despite not knowing how much money they’ll be getting from the state. The schools are awarded state funding based on the number of students — and many of the districts are planning on the same per student amount as last year.
I.A.S.B. chief financial officer, Galen Howsare, says the final state funding number is just one part of the equation..Howsare says the districts are all at different places, even with zero growth. He says some have balances they can spend down, while others under the system and collective bargaining laws have to agree to salary increases around 3% and will have to cut staff.
The average salary increase so far have been 3%, but they range from a 1.9% increase in small districts like Danville and Tri-Center to 6.8% in Dows and just over 5% for the Clear Creek/Amana district. Howsare says districts that have increased enrollment have the advantage of knowing the budget will increase some over last year.
He says they still know they will be getting some more dollars for the extra students, even if the state gives district a zero increase over last year, and he says the change in enrollment is why there is a big disparity in the level of pay increases across the state. Howsware says districts that are losing students have already figured in cutbacks in the budget.
Howsare says they know they have declining enrollment and have been planning for that and in some cases he says the employees are cooperating with the school board to contain salary increases to avoid cutting teachers and increasing class sizes. Howsare says some schools approve the budget now with a chance to revisit the issue once the final funding is set.
“In some cases I know there are some districts that have written what we call ‘reopeners’ or they’ve created formulas whereby they’ve based a settlement say with the employee groups based on zero percent, and if somehow it would turn out to be larger than that, then they’ve agreed that ‘x’ amount would go toward additional salary payments,” Howsare says.
Howsware says districts could have problems finding teachers in areas where there are shortages once they finally find out their final staff levels. He says teachers with the least experience will be impacted the most from the budget situation, as most districts have a “last in, first out” policy when it comes to the staff reductions.
Howsare says if districts have to lay off a person in an high need area, they may lose that person to another district because of the person my not want to stay around to see if they get rehired. The I.A.S.B. keeps track of the contracts that have been approved by school boards.
You can see the teacher contract information on their website: at www.ia-sb.org. Look under the “human resources” tag.