The Ottumwa Courier


January 13, 2014

School district optimistic

OTTUMWA — Negotiations have to start somewhere. The suggestion put forth by teachers in the Ottumwa school district is for a total package increase of 9 percent.

The local teachers' union has submitted its initial contract proposal for the school year that will start in the fall of 2014. There are several requests to change rules for teachers or for the district. Those don't always cost the district more money, though they can. It's the total package increase that many people think of when they talk about contract negotiations.

Yet that doesn't mean teachers are asking for a pay hike of nearly 10 percent; "total package" includes things workers never really see, like insurance premiums and other benefits, social security tax and Iowa employee retirement funds. Part of the increase could also include pay raises for teachers.

Though much of the negotiation process is done in privacy, the initial proposal meeting is, by law, open to the public, explained Ottumwa school superintendent Davis Eidahl.

"I believe everyone involved in the process understands the initial proposal is not what the final contract agreement will be," Eidahl said. "It's simply a starting point to begin the conversation."

So this is just the first step.

The district budget has a "general fund" balance, which is used for teacher pay and, with some restrictions, other expenses. That fund brings in about $44 million and spends about $44 million. The current proposal would take an extra $1.8 million. So one question for negotiators, said Eidahl, is what kind of "new money" the district can expect. Currently, around $22 million is spent on salary and other expenses earned by teachers in Ottumwa.

"Initial proposals are a good way to communicate priorities to begin the negotiation process," said Eidahl after he received and read the submission from the union.

Some of those priorities become clear upon viewing the list of "language" changes teachers seek in their master contract.

Text Only
  • 15-minutes.png A change at Evans

    OTTUMWA — You can get kids to memorize facts. But teaching them to think can take more time. Educational leaders told the Ottumwa school board that the school year that begins 2014 will shift Evans Middle School students from 45-minute periods to 60-

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0418 OTT Agriculture Day color photo 2 -T -L -M Cardinal students celebrate Ag Day ELDON — Sometimes the best way to learn is to get out of the classroom and come face-to-face with things that you might not see every day. Students at Cardinal Elementary School got that chance Thursday during Ag Day. Every year, the Cardinal FFA and

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0418 OTT Joe Tafta color photo -L -T -M Pursuing opportunities

    OTTUMWA — Joe Tafta follows the rules. The Simpson College junior hopes to be a U.S. marshal one day, so he’s careful about what he says and does. But not always. On the afternoon of April 1, Tafta says, he nearly got booted out of Dunn Library for m

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0417 OTT Earth day color photo 1 -T -M Cargill celebrates Earth Day by educating ALBIA — In honor of Earth Day on Tuesday, April 22, employees from Cargill Eddyville and Cargill Pork are visiting with students at Grant Elementary and Lincoln Center in Albia all this week. On Wednesday the Courier caught up with them as they went

    April 16, 2014 3 Photos

  • Carrying bookbags a balancing act OTTUMWA — Permission slips. Notes from teachers. School activity announcements, birthday invitations, report cards and homework to sign. Kids bring home a lot of stuff. But is it done fairly? The school board this week was asked by ranking members of

    April 16, 2014

  • Van Buren to share FFA with Harmony KEOSAUQUA — Van Buren Community School Board approved a recommendation from its administration to share the ag program with Harmony for the 2014-15 school year. The decision means that Van Buren students would travel to Harmony to receive ag instruct

    April 16, 2014

  • Where to play OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa Community School District wants to discuss moving to another athletic conference. Superintendent Davis Eidahl revealed that the district has been contacted by a smaller sports league, which has extended an invitation to join the

    April 15, 2014

  • 0416 OTT Ron Oswalt mug -T School board member resigns

    OTTUMWA — As this week's school board meeting came to a close, the president read a letter from one of the members. Board President Carol Mitchell read that fellow board member Ron Oswalt was announcing his resignation from the Ottumwa Board of Educa

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0410 OTT picture Bracelets -M -T Caring Kids

    OTTUMWA — Five fourth-graders didn't need grownups to show them it feels good to help others. They found out firsthand. "I wanted to do a project with the bracelets I make. And it's better to help people than to just do a random project," Kennedy Hug

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0410 OTT Fairfield business students photo color Fairfield students proving to be future leaders

    FAIRFIELD — At Fairfield High School, students interested in making a career in a business-related field have the chance to join the Fairfield chapter of Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), a nonprofit organization that helps prepare them for

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

AP National