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SIOUX CITY | The Sioux City School District has proposed to take away $4,792 in supplemental pay that the majority of middle and high school teachers annually receive for extra duties beyond the normal workday.

The disclosure came Thursday as the administration presented its first offer for pay and benefits to unionized teachers and support staff. Last month, the Sioux City Education Association, which represents roughly 900 teachers, proposed raising annual teacher base salaries by 3.5 percent to $35,564 for the 2018-19 academic year.

Comparing the proposals from each side is difficult because the district on Thursday offered a flat $100 increase in base salary for teachers. That change would impact individual teachers in varying ways, from a $100 increase to higher amounts, depending upon on their current salary, years of experience and other factors.

District officials in the meeting did not explain the reason for proposing to eliminate supplemental pay for nearly 300 teachers.

Last year, Republican lawmakers approved a major overhaul of the state's 40-year-old collective bargaining law, which now limits mandatory items of negotiation to base salaries for most public employees. The new law carved out an exception for public safety unions, which are allowed to negotiate for both wages and benefits.

Superintendent Paul Gausman and Jim Hanks, the district's attorney, termed the proposed changes in pay as fair, considering the new revenue that will be available to the district.

Hanks said the district is working with tight finances, with the state scheduled to increase supplemental aid to public school districts by only 1 percent.

"This is not a good year in terms of state support," Hanks said.

Brenda Zahner, director of the Siouxland UniServ group of the Iowa State Education Association, said the supplemental pay proposal was a "disappointing" piece of the district offer Thursday.

Zahner said about one-third of all district teachers will lose the supplemental pay intended to compensate them for extra work. About 30 teachers in the audience quickly started buzzing about the proposal as it was presented Thursday.

By having teachers perform additional duties, the district saves money by not having to hire more teachers who would require the district to fund both their pay and benefits.

The district's opening offer to the Sioux City Educational Support Personnel Association, which represents paraprofessional associates, secretaries and bus assistants, was more straight forward.

The SCESPA asked for raises of $1.35 per hour, while the district countered with a proposed 15 cents per hour raise.

The support personnel, depending upon jobs, are paid a widely varying rate of pay.

Altogether, the district employs a combined 1,900 teachers and other staff.

Both unions are seeking three-year agreements through 2021 on contract language pieces, but where the wages could be re-negotiated each year. The school district is offering a basic one-year contract.

Under state law, the first two negotiating sessions between school districts and the unions are open to the public. Future negotiations will take place in private.

Both unions have requested that the district address the so-called permissive language issue -- such as leaves of absence, employee hours, grievance procedures and work year and holidays. 

Zahner argued the district should continue to voluntarily negotiate non-wage items such as health insurance, staff reduction procedures, transfers and professional evaluations.

The education unions proposed that those permissive portions be addressed in a new Labor Management Committee, which the unions and district officials have been discussing to possibly have eight members. Hanks and Gausman said Thursday they support having those matters also addressed by the committee, and then placed into the employee handbook, so workers could see the results.


County and education reporter

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