The Albia Community School Board, working inside the boundaries of new employee collective bargaining, spent a considerable amount of time Monday discussing what to do about a 9.39 percent increase in employee health insurance, amounting to about a $120,000 total increase.
Health insurance is one of the items under the new collective bargaining law (now in its second year) that is not a mandatory bargaining item.
“For as long as I’ve been here and before that, health insurance was the sacred cow of our collective bargaining contract,” said Superintendent Kevin Crall. “It was protected often times at the expense of the salary schedule. Over the course of time, that has hampered IPERS (employee retirement which is based on salary and not benefits).”
Last year, with a similar increase, the board offered levels of deductibles employees could choose to keep their costs from increasing. About 60 percent of the staff chose a higher deductible, which boosted their salary.
According to Joe Judge, his decision on family insurance cost him $3,000 in take home pay.
A number of alternatives were suggested to the negotiating team, including staying with a flat amount for the district to pay for insurance, allowing employees to decided for themselves what deductible would be most advantageous and then bargaining strictly on wages. Another idea was to negotiate on a 50-50 basis, insurance and salaries.
“If we swallow the entire amount, it will affect how much we can offer in salaries,” said Superintendent Crall. The board has until its next meeting to come to a consensus.
Board secretary Melissa Bauer went over the budget that was adopted for publication. Because of an increase in valuation, the district will drop its per thousand tax asking from $14.49603 per thousand dollars of assessed valuation to $13.90943 per thousand. Taxes levied on property will move from $3.949 million to $3.952 million. Total school valuation rose from $276.24 million to $288.85 million. Property tax makes up about one third of all school spending.
Where the district challenged is in the state’s portion of the budget based on student enrollment. Albia’s head count is down about 24 students which means state foundation aid will actually drop from $8.391 million to $8.390 million.
The total budget will rise from $22.403 million to $22.521 million.
A budget hearing is set for April 8, 6 p.m. at Kendall Center.
What Superintendent Crall hopes will be the final school calendar for the year, hours are being made up Wednesdays and the Monday after Easter (April 22) was taken as a make-up day. Make-up days will also be held on May 24, 27, 28, and 29, 30 and 31 with the last day of school on May 31. Teachers will complete their contract on June 10.
There will still be one day of Easter break on April 19. The senior’s last day will be Thursday, May 16 with Senior Assembly on Friday, May 17 and graduation on May 18.
Lincoln Center Principal and Curriculum Director Joellen Breon reported to the board on Albia’s Instructional Resource Protocol (updating text books and materials).
Breon said that the district annually purchases books and materials for special education, talented/gifted, library, guidance and fine arts as needed.
Currently the district is awaiting information back from the AEA and Iowa Department of Education on recommendations for science materials prior to purchase. Resources for 7th grade social studies will also be purchased due to changes in standards.
Math resources were studied and updated in 2016-17 PK-12 and reading and language arts were updated in 2015-16. Breon said multiple electronic resources have been added based on specific needs and based on gaps in current resources.
In action items:
The board accepted the resignations of Sarah Popson, aide and Darin Helm, junior high wrestling.
A bid of $1,000 from Adams Auto Body for the purchase of a wrecker that does not run was accepted.
A clean audit report for the district led to a discussion of board oversight into finances, based on the ordeal that the Waukee School District and other schools have gone through.
After some discussion and a reminder that the public can look at school finances any time, the board agreed to look into a policy (beyond the regular yearly audit) that might help guard against any future misuse of school funds.