School board looks towards future

MASON CITY, Iowa – The Mason City School Board continues to discuss the looming issue of budget cuts, but a meeting earlier this week carried with it a little more good news. Four employees, whose jobs were at risk, found out they will continue to work for the district.

“All of them have requested a hearing so they’re kind of in that mix, they were kind of in that sort of waiting pool,” says Superintendent Anita Micich.

Those four positions include special education instructors, a social studies educator, and a language arts teacher. While this provides some relief, they are still unsure of what exactly they will be doing next year and where they will be.

Others educators are still waiting for their verdict.

“They’re allowed their hearings and that’s all private, after that there will be more action taken on a later date,” says School Board Member, Janna Arndt.

Last night Micich revealed exactly how they go about making these tough decisions.

“First its by attrition, which is retirement or resignation, and you look at that group of people and say do we need to replace that position or not,” says Micich.

This is one reason why those four educators are able to keep their jobs. Next, they consider cutting those without degrees and then it comes down to seniority.

“The last hired are the first reduced, the newest, youngest, professionals that we have on staff,” says Micich.

Which, she says is painful for students, their schools, and the local economy.

“We all share these feelings, it’s painful for everybody,” says Micich.

The School Board also took action last night on a measure which will hopefully lay a good foundation for years to come. They did this by approving a 2-year agreement between the school board and the Mason City Education Association.

“We recommend approval of this tentative agreement for the 2014-2015 school years so we can move forward together,” says Micich.

This agreement between the board and educators was reached by employing a mediator, but she says it is well worth it.

“We will be able to anticipate what the budget will look like for 15-16 because of that first time two-year agreement that was reached,” says Micich.

That agreement includes a percentage increase of just over 3% and a $950 increase in base salaries for the first year and $1,250 increase in the second year for incoming educators with a bachelor’s degree.

While different emotions run high in the community, one thing is constant, everyone is ready to move forward.

“I, on a daily basis get calls and emails from the community. They just want to come together, and we just want to work this out, so that everybody can move on,” says Arndt.

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