AWEA presents initial proposal

Posted March 24, 2020 at 9:19 pm

by Dodie Hook

The Akron-Westfield Education Association (AWEA) presented its initial proposal March 17 to the Akron-Westfield School Board as negotiations begin.

Present were AWEA members Todd Colt, Tracy Frerichs, Ryan Schuknecht, and Lisa Wolthuizen, board members Pam Von Hagel and Cory Tucker, and Superintendent Randy Collins.

The initial AWEA proposal is for a two-year contract with a total package increase of 4.03 percent per year which includes adjustments to Schedule A, increases to Schedule A, increases to Schedule B, potential lane increases, employer paying health insurance increase, and using the alternating methods for Schedule A increases.

The final number would depend on the health insurance cap for 2020-2021 along with the final 2020-2021 health insurance options.

Colt, speaking on behalf of the AWEA, began by saying, “The Association hopes and believes that everyone acknowledges that in order to maintain high standards of instruction, the school district must be able to attract and retain quality educators. Together we have to do our best to prevent our school district from becoming a stepping stone for area school districts. We believe the best way to find a solution is to work closely with the Akron-Westfield Board of Education allowing both sides to share ideas and facts.”

Colt said he was happy to see board members present and that the AWEA looks forward to working together with the board to attract and retain quality teachers.

Colt pointed out that in the last five years A-W has had 18 teachers move for one reason or another with many of those teaching in another school district.

“The challenge is how do we keep this from happening in the next five years? Both the Iowa Association of School Boards and the Iowa State Education Association encourages the use of school comparisons from the Iowa Department of Education as a guideline for negotiating salaries and benefits. We have done this in the past,” said Colt.

The initial AWEA proposal focuses on two concerns the group sees within the school district:

1. Comparing the future earning power of A-W teachers with the present earning power of the teachers.

2. Make sure the salaries of the teachers are comparable to each other if their experience and lanes are comparable.

“We may not be able to keep up with our neighboring districts but we need to keep up with ourselves,” Colt said. “The salaries of our current staff are not keeping up with our hiring schedule.”

Colt explained that new teachers moving in to the district are being paid more than teachers who have been at A-W for several years.

According to Colt, the new teacher, on average, will make $1,156 more per year than current teachers.

“We feel this issue needs immediate attention,” Colt said.

In order to align current wages with the hiring schedules and allow the teachers to have at least the earning power in the future compared to the earning power of today, the two-year, 4.03 percent increase was proposed. This would include alternating the method of increases each year. According to Colt, this strategy would also help the hiring schedule issue.

“The alternating method was the norm for over 25 years until the last few years,” said Colt. “This proposal would insure teacher earning power in the future will be at least the earning power of today. It would also ensure teachers have comparable salaries based on lanes and years of service versus the discrepancies we have now.”

Colt finished up by saying “Bottom line is for our side and your side to work toward a solution to help with these two issues. We can do that through collective bargaining and in the end hopefully we will lower the number of stepping stone incidents.”

Next step in the process is the A-W board will meet and give AWEA their initial proposal. This will be an open meeting. Following meetings will be held in closed session.