District, teachers union come to contract

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS –  The Marshalltown School Board has approved a two-year contract with the Marshalltown Education Association teachers union.

After several weeks marked by negotiation meetings and teachers’ remarks at school board public forum sections, the Marshalltown Education Association teachers union and Marshalltown Schools have come to an understanding about the new teacher contract.

The Marshalltown School Board ratified the agreement at Monday’s board meeting.

“It’s a two-year agreement with a re-opener for raises conversations after this next year, so the language pieces are two years,” said district Human Resources Director Anthony Spurgetis. “There are some sections and articles that will be moved down to a handbook appendix, based on our last mediation session with the teachers.”

Those items being moved to the district employee handbook, including policies and procedures like reduction of staff, employee evaluation, transfers, professional development and education improvement, group insurance and leaves of absence, were a point of contention between the district and the union.

Several teachers spoke out against adding the above items, which are considered “permissive” under the revised 2017 collective bargaining state law, from being moved from the teacher contract to the employee handbook. While the contract is negotiated, the employee handbook is fully under board control.

“Probably leaves is one of the biggest items, protecting our sick leave, family leave and other leaves along those lines,” said Brad Weidenaar, Marshalltown High School instructional coach and MEA leader. “That is probably the biggest one that members said ‘We really have to have this,’ and we just couldn’t secure them.”

He said there was nothing wrong with most of the items moved from the contract to the handbook.

“Much of the language that they’re moving to the handbook is language that hasn’t been grieved, has worked for years and years, had, if any changes, minor changes to it,” Weidenaar said. “Much of that language is just now getting plunked down into a handbook.”

Some items were deleted entirely, including those having to do with union dues payroll deductions.

The district did compromise with the union in a few areas. One example is the length of the contract, which the district initially proposed should be one year. After hearing teachers’ desire for a longer contract, the final agreement was for two years.

Since the 2017 collective bargaining law changes, the only item that is legally required to be negotiated is wages. In the new contract, teachers saw their base salary increase by $64 for 2019-20, with the wages to again be open for negotiation in 2020-21.

Also approved by the board Monday was an increase to administrators’ and directors’ wages, with an increase of 1.91 percent for most in those categories. For Superintendent Theron Schutte, that means an increase of about $4,248 for a total of $224,341 in 2019-20.

Spurgetis said he appreciated the help of the district administrators, directors and board members during a tough negotiation process.

“This year was challenging, for not only the district but the associations, too, to navigate the new collective bargaining law and the environment we’re in with bargaining,” he said.

To view the full memorandum of settlement between the MEA and district, visit https://go.boarddocs.com/ia/mcsdia/Board.nsf/Public and click on the June 17 board agenda – the agreement can be found under item 5.03.

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Contact Adam Sodders at

641-753-6611 or

asodders@timesrepublican.com