February 26, 2013

GLIDDEN - Glidden-Ralston teachers asked for a 13-percent pay raise Monday to start their salary negotiations with district leaders for next school year.

Teachers asked for a $5,000 bump to the base salary, among other requests, which would put the average teacher salary in Glidden at more than $51,000. Superintendent Dave Haggard countered with an increase of $500 for the base salary and a total package increase of 2.5 percent, or an average teacher salary of $48,216.

Negotiations are expected to continue for weeks behind closed doors, but the teachers revealed the rationale for their request at Monday's school board meeting. Among the list of reasons for a substantial raise are: working harder to educate students who fall short of Iowa Core Curriculum requirements; spending more time outside of normal work hours to learn new technology, such as Apple laptop computers, being implemented at schools; and increases in the district's fund balances.

But Haggard said the money the district holds in reserve is already spoken for.

"The district has had good fortune for unspent balances," he said. "The 1-to-1 (laptop) initiative and the new HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) system ... those, in my mind, are what unspent balances are there for."

He said it would be dangerous to take an annual expenditure out of the unspent balance fund because the district isn't seeing any new money.

Future contract negotiations are open to the public unless one or both sides request they be closed. The teachers requested any future meetings be closed.

Later in the meeting, the Glidden-Ralston School Board passed a resolution that asks state lawmakers to approve a 4-percent increase to what Iowa schools can spend per pupil. Democrats support that percentage, but Republicans have pushed a 2-percent increase. Haggard said the district would need a 7-percent increase to avoid cost-cutting measures because of declining school enrollment.

The so-called "allowable growth" measure has frustrated school leaders because state law requires it to be approved 1 1/2 years before the start of the school year in which it takes effect.

"The law has been violated," Haggard said. "This is a way for us to tell legislature that they aren't following their own rules."

Also at Monday's meeting, Jeff Kruse, the superintendent of the South Central Calhoun School District, approached the Glidden-Ralston board about jointly offering classes for college credit.

Glidden-Ralston School Board president Matt Conner said the board will consider the offer.

"Part of our policy or goals is to discuss sharing options with neighboring districts," Conner said.

Kruse said South Central Calhoun will also be approaching the Manson and East Sac County school boards.

The board also discussed some, what Haggard called, controversial topics, which include adding a new bus route to the north side of town and sending students to Carroll to play on its soccer team. Haggard said he wants to get any hard decisions taken care of before he leaves, so the district's new superintendent, Rod Olsen, won't be blamed for the decisions at the beginning of his term.

Three parents and a day care owner requested the new bus route because there are nine young children who have to walk home and six children who have to walk to a day care. No decision was made at Monday's meeting about the new route.

The board voted to send its students to Carroll for a shared soccer program, but said it will re-evaluate the program after one year.

In other board news:

- The school board agreed to a $56,700 contract with Bluestone Engineering of Johnston to install a new heating and cooling system in the Glidden school.

The money will cover the first phase of construction this summer, after which an additional $10,000 to $15,000 will be needed for the final two steps of the project.

- The school board accepted early-retirement applications from two elementary teachers and a custodian. The teachers are JoAnn Johnson, a 5th and 6th grade math teacher, Cheryl Morris a 2nd grade teacher and custodian Dee Arrowsmith.