Cedar Rapids school board approves meal price increases, teacher contracts

Members discuss school calendar, SILO loan

The members of the Cedar Rapids Community School District’s school board were very busy during their May 12 regular meeting. Here’s a roundup of issues they either approved or heard about for later action:

•Board members voted to increase meal prices for the 2014-15 school year. Elementary breakfasts will each become 10 cents more expensive while individual secondary breakfasts will go up in price by 20 cents. Lunches will rise by 15 cents at both the elementary and secondary levels. District information cites compliance with the federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act as the source of the increases, which will not impact reduced-price meals.

•The board approved the 2014-15 Terms and Conditions of Employment for the members of the Cedar Rapids Education Association, which includes teachers and other building staff. The settlement includes $3.51 million, or 3.51 percent, in new dollars and “individual salary increases ranging from $1,902 to $3,056 depending on lane placement.” Salaries and benefits for teachers and nurses will total $103.5 million in 2014-15.

•Carlos Grant will become the new principal at Metro High School on July 1. He will replace David Brown, who will serve as an associate principal at Roosevelt Middle School.

•Board members heard a presentation from Tim Oswald of Piper Jaffray about getting a $9 million loan for the district’s School Infrastructure Local Option (SILO) sales tax dollars which go into the Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE) fund for building projects. There will be a forecast $5 million gap between revenue and the cost of scheduled spending for the 2016 fiscal year. The board approved using Piper Jaffray to secure the loan, which Oswald hopes to close by June 30 and retire by 2018, for a fee of 0.75 percent of the loan amount.

•Karla Ries, director of instructional services, presented information about having the school district quantify its 2014-15 calendar in hours or days. Next year will be the first in which Iowa law will allow administrators to measure their academic years in either 1,080 instructional hours or 180 days. Administrators must certify on this spring’s Basic Educational Data Survey to the Iowa Department of Education which option they will exercise. Ries said using hours “gives us some flex1ibility that we don’t have with days” while also allowing the district to more closely adhere to the published calendar, which board members approved earlier this school year. Superintendent Dave Benson said he will recommend that the board approve measuring the 2014-15 year in hours. That vote is scheduled for the board’s next regular meeting, scheduled for June 9, following a public hearing on the proposal.

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