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Teachers Negotiate for Changes

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Photos of the Atlantic School Board members are displayed in the Media Center.

Photos of the Atlantic School Board members are displayed in the Media Center.

Photos of the Atlantic School Board members are displayed in the Media Center.

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Many students have been wondering why approximately 70 teachers attended the Atlantic School Board meeting on the night of April 11. According to the agenda, the meeting was a regularly scheduled monthly business meeting to approve the budget and finances. This is a time when the board certifies that they will not spend more than what is budgeted for throughout the next year.

School board president Alison Bruckner said she is not sure why the teachers chose this meeting to speak at about their concerns. Cindy Fitzgerald from ISEA UniServ Field Services said the purpose of the teachers speaking at the board meeting on April 11 was to share information with the board as well as the Atlantic community. According to the Atlantic News Telegraph, the teachers went to “voice their displeasure with the districts proposed freeze in salaries and benefits for the coming year.”

“Salaries are determined by level of education and length of service,” said school board member Jenny Williams. To set the salaries, the school board and the teachers’ union do a collective bargaining. There are many things to look at while determining a salary, such as the district’s budget and benefits including insurance, paid leave and retirement. They also have to consider the current student enrollment.

The speakers were educators as well as community members, voters and residents in the Atlantic area.”

— Cindy Fitzgerald

“The speakers were educators as well as community members, voters and residents in the Atlantic area,” explained Fitzgerald. “In previous open public meetings, the board had informed teachers that they were recommending a zero percent pay increase.”

Negotiations work by a series of meetings. The first meeting is when the board and teachers’ union come together to give each other their initial proposals and anyone can attend. Following meetings are closed to the public but proposals are exchanged until one is agreed upon. If an agreement cannot be reached, then they enter a mediation with legal counsel.

Members of the school board have similar feelings towards the situation at this point. “I am saddened and frustrated that the teachers do not feel that I value what they do,” Williams said. She hopes they can all come together and have respectful conversations about the complaints. “I was frustrated that they apparently were given misinformation which led to them being upset,” Bruckner said.

AHS principal Heather McKay said she thought the school board members listened and the teachers were “eloquent and passionate.” Atlantic Education Association Member Mike McDermott said he could not comment on any questions at this time. Fitzgerald said, “The teachers felt devalued and spoke at the open budget meeting informing every one of those feelings. As educators, they feel they have been sent the message that they are the first expendable item in the budget.”

According to KSOM, on April 19 the Atlantic Community School District filed a prohibited practice complaint against the Atlantic Education Association. The complaint claimed that the Education Association violated Chapter 20.10 of the Public Employment Relations Act. McDermott responded for the Atlantic Education Association: “We deny any allegation we operated improperly and are disappointed this legal matter will need to be settled before we continue contract talks for 2018-2019.”

On May 9 the school board and the teachers’ union reached an agreement for the 2018-19 contract. The agreement calls for a $480 increase on the base salary. The total package increase is 1.90%, for a total cost to the District of $139,367.

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About the Writers
Grace Bruckner, Editor

Grace Bruckner, a junior at AHS, has been involved in cross country, track, journalism and AHS Fuel. Bruckner has been a journalism student for two years and her role as a member of the Eye of the Needle team is to create challenge videos along with Pluma Pross, another journalist. “It is a very fun environment and all my friends are in it. I get to work with very fun people,” Bruckner said. If she had the choice, Bruckner said she would spend all of her time “in Michigan on the lake.” Her most memorable moment in high school so far was being an alternate at the Drake Relays. Bruckner plans to “hopefully” attend medical school to become a radiologist.

Story by Kennedy Goergen, Caroline Pellett and Lauren Nicholas

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Kelsie Siedlik, Journalism Production Student

Sophomore Kelsie Siedlik is a journalism production student with an interest in broadcasting. “It makes me feel like I’m in charge almost,” she said. She enjoys the editing aspect of broadcasting. Siedlik is also involved in student council, AHS Fuel, Cross Country, and track. In her free time, she watches Netflix or Hulu and eats food. Siedlik has three dogs, and two cats. . Her dogs are Missy, Bruiser, and Toby and her cats are Sasha and Pepper. When Siedlik graduates, she wants to go to college and study psychology because she finds it “interesting.” She also wants to live somewhere warm. 

Story by Grace Clay

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Teachers Negotiate for Changes