The Ottumwa Courier

April 23, 2014

Van Buren OKs teacher pay hike

Courier correspondent

---- — KEOSAUQUA — The Van Buren Community School Board ratified a master contract with its certified staff members recently.

Superintendent Dr. Pam Ewell, the Van Buren Education Association and the district reached a settlement which calls for increasing the base salary from $30,800 to $31,500 and the insurance contribution from $705 to $725. There was no language change, and the total cost to the district is $135,878.

“The percentage increase is 3.92 percent,” Ewell said.

Board member Sheila Parsons praised both sides for working together to reach the settlement.

The school board also reviewed the AIA contract between the district and its architect, BLDD Architects, Inc., Davenport. Construction manager is Estes Construction, Davenport.

The school’s attorney, Danielle Hainfield from Ahlers Law Firm, and Todd Cyrulik, BLDD, were at the meeting via Skype. Questions centered on cost percentages to the district and changes from a previous one that was presented a year ago.

At one time, the district had put a $4 million figure on the contract for a project. It didn’t tie the district to that amount. However, some board members balked and didn’t want that figure. The differences could be explained by that change and the fact that much could be a remodel, according to Kara McEntee, board member.

There are a lot more unknowns to an architect during a remodel than new construction. “When you make a risk for the vendor, you’ll pay more,” she’s said.

She noted that last year, the architects “were at 50 percent in the design phase, now we are at 0 percent.”

Board member Andrew Lydolph wanted the board to move forward with a dollar figure in the contract. He put that in the form of a motion. Rick Plowman seconded. The motion failed.

“Didn’t we already have $4 million that we took off twice already?” McEntee asked.

The board will consider approving the contract at its next meeting. There was a work session on facility improvements and a potential scope of items with costs and review of priorities.