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
  • IHCC buildings.jpg Grant helps Hills keep students on track

    OTTUMWA — Thanks to a grant designed to improve graduation rates, Indian Hills Community College now has even more tools in its campuswide effort to help students with needs and give them the resources they need to stay in class. Indian Hills is one

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0710 OTT Bulldogs update color photo -L -M High school students lead Bulldog charge

    OTTUMWA — Two Ottumwa High School students gave their very first press conference Wednesday morning to share their progress on decorating Ottumwa with large bulldog statues. Alyssa Cash and Madyson Feather joined Main Street Ottumwa Executive Directo

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0710 OTT Smart snacks color photo -M -L Schools adopt new food regulations

    OTTUMWA — This fall, students across the country will find big changes in the cafeteria, but Ottumwa kids may find they approve of the changes. The new "Smart Snacks in School" standards from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) went in

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Survey finds math, science grads earn top dollar WASHINGTON (AP) — It seems to matter less whether your alma mater is public or private than what you study — math and science in particular — when it comes to finding a high-paying job after college, according to a report released Tuesday by the Educ

    July 8, 2014

  • Pekin and Tri-County to share superintendent PACKWOOD — Both Pekin and Tri-County Community School Districts have voted to approve Operational Sharing Incentives for superintendent during the 2014-15 school year. During the 2014 legislative session, the Legislature passed and the governor signe

    July 2, 2014

  • Teaching the teachers

    OTTUMWA — The community has formally advised the school district that strong teachers lead to strong students. Now Ottumwa teachers have "coaches" to help them boost educational muscle. Though the idea is now formalized under a Legislative state plan

    May 29, 2014

  • 0525 OTT OHS graduation web-color photo 3 OHS seniors say farewell OTTUMWA - Sunday marked the end of high school for all the graduating seniors from Ottumwa High School. Family and friends of the students packed the Bridge View Center, leaving standing room only for late-comers. You could feel the excitement in the

    May 25, 2014 4 Photos

  • Slideshow: OHS graduation

    May 25, 2014

  • 0524 OTT OCS graduation web-color photo 3 Small ceremony for big achievements OTTUMWA - Saturday was a special day for the four seniors graduating from Ottumwa Christian School. This small graduating class is double the size of last year's class and illustrates the small-group learning style of the school. Family and friends o

    May 24, 2014 3 Photos

  • Slideshow: Ottumwa Christian graduation

    May 24, 2014

AP National