The Mason City Schools Board of Education and the Mason Education Association (MEA) have reached an agreement on a new three-year contract for the district’s approximately 630 certificated staff members. The MEA ratified the agreement on April 19, 2016, and the Board unanimously approved the agreement on April 26, 2016.
The agreement calls for a 2.5 percent increase in salaries for each year of the three-year contract covering the 2016-2017, 2017-2018, and 2018-2019 school years. Teachers who are eligible will receive step increases. In addition, the school board and teachers will create a Salary Study Committee (similar to the Mason City Schools Health Care Committee) who will work collaboratively to make recommendations to future negotiations teams.
District and teacher negotiators also agreed to increase the teacher’s health insurance premium costs. For the first two years of the contract, teachers will pay eight percent of their health care premiums, and in 2018-2019 teachers will pay 10 percent.
“Our people are the heart of our schools. We have very dedicated educators, and it was wonderful to be able to reach an agreement that provides for modest raises and maintains our commitment to strong fiscal stewardship,” said Dr. Gail Kist-Kline, Superintendent. “I am excited about the opportunities in the calendar that give our educators time to learn and grow together.”
As a part of negotiations, some modifications were suggested to the calendar. Some of the most notable charges are: students will now have two “Personal Learning Days” and teachers’ professional development time will nearly triple - from 7.5 hours to 21 hours each year. Mason City Schools will now have 179 student days and 184 teacher days.
On personal learning days, students will experience integration of learning and their life by embarking on projects outside of school that may include service learning, global learning and online learning. Students will not report to school on personal learning days. Personal learning days for 2016-2017 will be November 21, 2016, and February 17, 2017.
Teachers also gain more professional work days so that they can pause to do the work of the profession which may include training, practice, curriculum collaborating, lesson planning, or grading. In addition, there are now more opportunities for parent-teacher conferences during the day on November 21 for grades 1-12 and on February 17 for Kindergarten. There will still be evening conferences as scheduled by the individual teachers as well.
The change in the school calendar will result in starting the school year one day earlier. The school year will now begin on Monday, August 15, 2016 and end on Thursday, May 25, 2017.
“I am delighted with the outcomes of our negotiations this year- a contract that demonstrates respect for teachers and allows us to expand the already amazing classroom experiences we provide for our students, and an ever-improving relationship among our Association, the Board, and the Administration. I believe the spirit of meaningful dialogue and creative problem solving that we engendered during our negotiations will continue to characterize our relationship and will allow abundant greatness to grow here, to the benefit of all students and the Mason community as a whole,” said Maria Mueller, MEA President.