Teachers get $170,000 more by Gregory R. Norfleet · News · May 24, 2013
Teachers will get an extra $170,000 in salary and benefits increases next year in a new, two-year agreement with the West Branch Board of Education.
The contract, passed unanimously by the school board last week, is the first multi-year contract since the recession.
“We will be competitive (with this contract),”Board President Mike Owen said. “This is not outside the bounds of other districts.”
West Branch Education Assoc. President Mary Buol said she was “very pleased” with the “communication and collaboration” between the parties.
“We are happy with the settlement and look forward to years of further growth for the committed, dedicated, and hard-working teachers of the district,” she said. “The teachers ... are truly doing some outstanding things for students. It’s an exciting time to be in West Branch!”
The 2013-14 contract amounts to a $550 increase on the base salary and a total salary increase of about $121,000, or 3.73 percent, and total benefit increase of about $49,000, or 5.97 percent. The total increase is 4.18 percent.
In the 2014-15 year, the teachers will see a total package increase of about $158,000, or 3.75 percent.
“It’s nice to do this for two years,” Owen said. “We think the money is there to support that.”
Buol agreed, saying it will allow the parties “to work on some contract needs during the 2014-15 school year.”
“It is my hope that West Branch continues to show its commitment to quality education and that together we can work to put West Branch at the top again,” the WBEA president said.
Superintendent Kevin Hatfield said the teachers and administration met eight or nine times to come to this agreement.
“I really thought the discussions were valuable,” Owen said.
Buol said the more-frequent meetings were due to “issues” in the Iowa legislature, like the uncertainty over allowable growth funding, which means the school district does not know how much money will come from the state next year.
Board member Deb Schreiber said that she like that the new salaries “keep us competitive.”
Following approval of the teachers’ contract, the board approved $23,600 in increases, amounting to the same 4.18 percent boost, for the support staff, like aides, para-educators, custodians and secretaries.
Both Hatfield and Buol said there were no major changes in the contract language.