The Cherokee School Board last week ratified the collective bargaining agreement for the 2011-2012 school year with the International Union of Operating Engineers (I.U.O.E.), Local 234.
The bargaining agreement covers the District's cooks and custodians and calls for a 3-percent salary and benefit increase, which includes a state-mandated spike in the Iowa Public Employees Retirement System (IPERS) and insurance premium increases.
The agreement is identical to those already approved for the Cherokee Teachers Association (CTA), and the Administration.
"We really had good discussions with Local 234 and there was a general consensus between all of us that the new agreement is fair and doable due to all the financial ramifications Iowa school districts face since the accross-the-board cuts and other cuts at the State level the past few years," noted Cherokee Superintendent Dr. John Chalstrom.
In a related matter, Chalstrom also informed the Board about the lack of progress in the Legislature on the new budget and the fears of a government shutdown possibly occurring July 1 (new Fiscal Year).
Chalstrom said the three main sticking points being debated by the Democrats who control the Senate are Governor Terry Branstad's and the House GOP seeking a two-year budget; Branstad's proposed 0-percent Allowable Growth and 2-percent next year versus the Democrats favoring 3-percent A.G., and at least 2-percent this year; and Branstad's Pre-School funding formula that would put more cost-bearing on parents and not the State.
Chalstrom also emphasized that the District does not receive State Aid payments until September, so there are no immediate cash flow impact for the District in July and August.
Chalstrom also wished to clarify reports of the District allegedly negotiating with the Mid-Sioux Head Start program to possibly relocate the Head Start in the former Webster School Building on North Roosevelt.
The Cherokee Airport Authority reported that news in a recent public meeting with the Cherokee City Council.
The Head Start building on Lake Street is located in the airport's RPZ (Runway Protection Zone) and needs to be moved, according to the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA). The building cuts 200 feet off the original 4,000 foot runway, which impacts certain aircraft landing in Cherokee.
"We would be happy to meet with Mid Sioux to see what we could do to help them out," said Chalstrom, "but we've had no negotiations with them to this point."
In other action, the Board accepted a series of resignations in the District, and also extended two new contracts.
The Board accepted the resignations of Mary Tuttle as Guidance Counselor at the Cherokee Middle School, of Mike Rundall as Social Science Instructor at Washington High School, Jason Uhl as Art Instructor at WHS, Sam Oppel as Director of Technology, Bruce Dagel as freshman football coach, Jennifer Zindahl as an associate at Roosevelt Elementary, and Vicki Freed as 8th grade Girls Track and Field Coach, pending finding a suitable replacement.
Rundall is the new Middle School/High School Principal at Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn, Uhl is relocating with his family, Oppel is relocating to a similar job in Central Iowa, Dagel will serve as a volunteer varsity football coach, and Zindahl has taken a teaching position at River Valley.
The Board also extended contracts to Austin Todd as the new Cherokee WHS varsity wrestling coach, and to Tyler Youngers as 7th grade football coach. Todd is a Morningside senior who will be student teaching this fall in Cherokee, and is a graduate of Galva-Holstein, where he participated in wrestling, football, and track and field.
For the first time in three years, the District also has increased student meal prices for the 2011-2012 school year. Student prices are now $1.15 for breakfast, and $1.80 for lunch. Adult prices are now $1.80 for breakfast, and $3 for lunch.
The Board will meet in regular session on July 11, instead of July 18, due to scheduling conflicts.