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Board freezes administrative pay

BY LILY ABROMEIT | MAY 15, 2014 5:00 AM

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Iowa City School District administrators are also taking a hit from budget cuts.

Board member Tuyet Dorau was determined to make change Tuesday night at the Iowa City School Board meeting.

Proposing a salary freeze for administration twice in one night, Dorau was successful in pursuading the board to create a change that could affect allotments in the current budget.

“To me, it’s more [that] we have to try everything that we can to maintain and try to preserve our classrooms,” she said. “And the administration has tried to do that with the budget cuts, but this is one more tool we can use to do that, and in a time like this, we need to use all the tools we have available to us.”

The board initially rejected the first suggestion to freeze salaries for all administrators, later accepting the motion to freeze only central administration salaries.

This means people such as the superintendent, vice superintendents, and director of the physical plant will not be receive salary increases in the coming year.

Superintendent Steve Murley said salary increases are made with a “meet and confer” process and this change “short-circuits the ability for people to bring proposals” for a raise.

Dorau said she believed the motion was an important way to show support for the programs taking major hits from the budget cuts.

“I feel that it is important that the impact of the budget cuts be felt across the board and that we keep those cuts as far away from classroom as possible,” she said. “I think it is important that our leadership show they are willing to bear a portion of those budget cuts, just as a number of our teachers, our staff members, and our students are bearing a number of those cuts.”

The largest budget cuts are in music, language, and football programs.

Dorau said although this freeze will not save those classes and extracurricular programs, it could still make a significant difference.

She estimated that even with a 2 percent salary adjustment, the freeze the board passed on the salaries to these administrators could be in the “ballpark” of being the equivalent of 1.5 teacher jobs.

Although he was in favor of the outcome, board member Chris Lynch was opposed to both suggestions and voted no to both motions.

“I am not necessarily in disagreement with the outcome, but he process is important,” he said. “It would have been much more powerful to work this collaboratively.”

Lynch said he would have preferred to work with Murley and the rest of the administrative team to find a common goal.

This, he believes, would have been prime for creating a sustainable model.

“What you want is a system that will work every year; it works now and works in the future, and clearly we’re lacking that system,” he said. “That is what will fix it forever, doing it in a systemic way.”

He said although he cannot comment on the effect it may have on the programs being cut, he is optimistic it will help reduce costs in the next year.

“This is one of the many things we need to talk about and get on the savings portfolio,” he said. “I think our inflation in general, and our wage inflation, needs to be in line with the supplemental state increase. We need to make sure we’re funding general inflation, adding teachers into classrooms, and be funding programming … we need to balance those three.”


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