This month during the regular meeting of the Central Rivers AEA Board of Directors, the board took action to approve our recommended negotiation agreements. This article provides a summary of each settlement along with some additional information about our financial picture as an agency.
Given the fact that we are in a solid financial position and our cash reserves have increased the past few years, we reopened the previously agreed upon settlements to be more aggressive in favor of employees. It is our hope that the change is received positively, and helps underscore our desire to provide raises and insurance benefits while maintaining our staffing levels and a balanced budget.
Specifically, we were previously settled for this year at 1%, but based on our current budget, strong solvency rate of 12.45%, and State Supplemental Aid (SSA) set higher than anticipated at 2.5%, we were able to increase our settlement agreements.
This year’s settlement is not impacted by insurance premium increases. Our insurance rates for next year will stay the same, so all settlement dollars will be allocated to salaries. Although this isn’t always the case, it is wonderful when it works out this way! I think everyone can agree that we would rather see money in paychecks rather than going to an insurance company.
Salary Information for 2022-23 (“Total package”)
Note: The total package includes the year-over-year increase in the cost of salaries and benefits of current staff. Benefits include employer costs for medicare, social security, IPERS, health, dental, vision, long-term disability, and life insurance, unemployment, and workers compensation.
Classified (CWA) = 8.20% total package ($267,878) which equates to a 11.51% increase in salaries. This also includes step movement as applicable, redesign of increased wage table, and a $0 increase in employer health, dental, and vision contribution/employee costs.
We needed to improve our starting wages to better compete with a changing labor market, while also honoring our staff who have provided many years of service. We believe that we were able to achieve a good balance. All Classified employees will receive at least a $1 per hour increase for the 2022-23 school year.
Certified (EA) = 3% total package ($1,024,427), which equates to a 3.37% increase on salaries. Includes step movement as applicable, $765 increase to salary schedule base (new base: $35,930), and $0 increase in employer health, dental, and vision contribution/employee costs.
NUSS = 3% total package ($87,979), which equates to a 3.55% increase on salaries, a $0 increase in employer health, dental, and vision contribution/employee costs.
Administration = 3% total package ($138,380), which equates to a 3.21% increase on salaries and a $0 increase in employer health, dental, and vision contribution/employee costs.
In addition, CRAEA may ask the Board to approve allocating up to $500,000 (from cost savings due to unfilled positions)+ $181,620 to reimburse the self-funded insurance pool for the cost of COVID claims (2/1/20 thru 6/30/21) in an effort to build our self-insurance pool and mitigate the impact of insurance rate increases.
Essentially, we would like to use these one-time funds in an effort to build our self-insurance pool. The healthier our pool, the better we are able to mitigate the impact of insurance rate increases. And as evidenced this year, if we can do that, then more of our settlement dollars go towards increased paychecks. The allocation of the above-identified resources (if approved) will not be costed as part of the settlement.
Below is a table showing the total package increase and cost for each group.
|Estimated New Money (2.5% SSA) = $798,000|
|Group||Salary (%)||Total Package (%)||Total Package Increase ($)|
|Certified ($765 base)||3.37%||3.00%||$1,024,427|
|Total cost (all funds)||$1,518,664|
|New Money is the year-over-year increase in state funding received.
Total Package includes the year-over-year increase in the cost of salaries and benefits of current staff. Benefits include employer costs for medicare, social security, IPERS, health, dental, vision, long-term disability, and life insurance, unemployment, and workers compensation.
For 23-24 (i.e., Year #2 of Settlement):
1% total package for each group (EA, CWA, NUSS, and ADMIN).
Note 1: We may consider an equal disbursement of our negotiated settlement to each CWA member for 2023-2024.
In summary, we continue to appreciate multi-year agreements that put us in a position to get our contracts out as soon as possible. Recently, we have been in a pattern of increasing our agreed-upon settlement, based on our financial condition. We have tried to be aggressive the first year of the settlement, and keep a lower second year of the settlement. This allows us to be as aggressive as possible in the short-term, but provides a more conservative settlement should we need it for the subsequent year. Our desire is not to be in a position to have to use the lower settlement amount, but we are prepared if something out of our control impacts our financial picture.
We want to thank everyone for all their efforts, flexibility, and positive attitude again this year. It is a challenging time in education, and our staff have met the challenges with positive attitudes and energy that has made a difference for students, families and educators. We hope that our efforts as an organization have provided evidence that we value and support you personally and professionally.
Please reach out to Karl Kurt, Asst. Chief Administrator/Director of HR or Michael Kalvig, Chief Financial Officer if you have any specific questions, comments, or concerns.