The Burlington school district find themselves in the middle of a budget shortfall, and to go along with budget concerns, collective bargaining disagreements are part of the discussion as well.
The district says it is looking to cut several jobs at the elementary school level. One director position and 8 elementary school positions. The biggest reason? enrollment numbers are down. According to the Burlington Superintendent Patrick Coen, it's a statewide issue.
"We're not the same, Iowa is not the same, we're losing population we're shrinking and the school districts have to make plans, long-term plans. What are we going to look like as our population continues to dwindle," Coen said.
Coen says $750,000 will need to be cut to offset the shortfall, on top of that collective bargaining, have become apart of the discussion as well. Burlington Education Association President, Matt Mckee says the union's negotiations team met for several hours with district board members about their contract, which entails issues like layoff procedures and contract evaluation. But the district chose to move those items to an employee handbook, which gives the district more power to make changes.
"A handbook is not equal to a contract from a teaching standpoint. A handbook is an item that can change at any board meeting," said McKee. "I just feel like there's a Us versus them dynamic that I wish wasn't that way and I wish it was more of a dialogue and not so adversarial."
With plenty of distractions, both sides will have to discuss more options down the road.