Officials dispute school district salaries

BY DI STAFF | FEBRUARY 17, 2011 7:20 AM

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Iowa City district officials and teachers are discussing an increase in teachers’ salaries.

The Iowa City Education Association, the union of Iowa City teachers, met with district officials Wednesday to discuss the proposed base salary increase of 3 percent. The proposal will now move to a negotiation phase.

Last year, the district approved a 2.96 percent increase to pay, which meant a less than 1 percent increase to teachers’ salaries.

J.P. Claussen, the union’s co-chief negotiator and a special-ed teacher at West High, said teachers are sensitive to difficulties posed by the economic recession but noted that an increase to teachers’ salaries will have positive effects in the classroom.

“With the economic downturn, what teachers see is that kids come to school with a lot more needs — unmet needs,” he said.

Teachers’ salaries depend largely on allowable growth, but Gov. Terry Branstad recently proposed 0 percent allowable growth for Iowa school districts.

Claussen said because of this proposal and other economic factors, the district and the teachers will have to compromise on any salary increase.

“We’ll meet somewhere in the middle— which is how [negotiations] usually go,” he said.

— by Audrey Smith

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