The Cherokee School Board Monday night ratified the Master Working Agreement with the Cherokee Education Association for the 2011-2012 school year and, after going into closed executive session to discuss collective bargaining strategies and issues for non-union support staff and administrative salaries, approved those pay hikes for the next school year.
The one-year contract with the CEA totals a 3-percent total package salary and benefit increase, including the State mandated IPERS increase from 6.95-percent to 8-percent. The new contract also includes a 2.24-percent hike in health insurance premiums, and the 3-percent hike establishes a base pay of $30,300.
The non-union support staff and administration also received a 3-percent total package increase in salary and benefits.
If all District employees, including the CEA, non-union support staff and administration, and union support staff (still in collective bargaining) receive the 3-percent increase, the cost to the District next year is an estimated $205,000. Due to declining enrollment and a predicted Allowable Growth Rate of 0-percent, the District will receive $56,000 less next year from State funding. This will result in the District having to reduce its general operating budget by $260,000.
Cherokee Superintendent Dr. John Chalstrom has stated that there will be no staff reductions for 2011-2012, but for 2012-2013 through attrition, two certified positions vacated by retirement will be absorbed by existing staff, and a fourth section to be added to first grade due to a large class of 82 students, must be filled with existing staff. Chalstrom said he is confident that the plan devised by the Administrative Team can accomplish this.
"To accomplish this task, a series of trasfers and additional job responsibilities will need to take place," said Chalstrom in an e-mail to the District staff. He said he will notify those affected sometime next week.
"I know that we are in difficult financial times and transfers and increased job responsibilities are not necessarily popular measures," explained Chalstrom. "However, preserving programming for our students as well as preserving our present level of employment will have been achieved."
Chalstrom added that such budget woes will only improve after enrollment declines end and Allowable Growth set by the Legislature is adequate to meet the costs of living increases.
Chalstrom said the Board will hold a special meeting to ratify the non-union support staff and administrative contracts and all certified contracts will be distributed in the next two weeks.
The Board heard a report from Chalstrom regarding the proposed new gym lighting for the WHS and Roosevelt gyms. There will be 16 new fixtures installed in each gym that would increase the candle power to 58 from the current estimated 40 foot candles at WHS, and a dim 20-25 at Roosevelt.
The "instant-on" fixtures will pay for themselves in energy conservation costs in three years, according to Chalstrom. In addition, replacement of the fluorescent bulbs would be a fraction of the costs of those in the existing systems. There also is a $4,200 rebate from Mid-American Energy that would lower the District costs.
The District has since received an additional $6,000 estimate for new lighting in the alcove and balcony areas at the WHS gym, bringing the project to an estimated $15,400 total expenditure, factoring in the Mid-American rebate.
In other action, the Board approved a 2011-2012 contract for dairy products with Dean Foods (Former Wells Dairy) and for bread products with Sara Lee for the District's food program, both recommended by Food Services Director Quinn Woods.
The Board also approved the resignation of Joyce Goodrich as 5th grade teacher at Cherokee Middle School with recognition for her years of service, and approved contracts for Tyler Youngers as 7th grade football coach, and Patty Henke as freshman softball coach.
Youngers replaces Mike Rundall, and Henke assumes the freshman softball position as player numbers have increased enough for the District to re-establish a freshman team after a three-year hiatus due to lack of participation numbers at the high school level.
The Board also approved the submitted list of graduates for the Class of 2011, pending completion of all course requirements.