Des Moines School Board passes motion to give Iowa educators more say in their contracts.


Approval of Consent

Though the Des Moines Public School Board was missing its chair on the night of Oct. 2, the room was anything but empty. Instead, the meeting was so well attended that by the time it began, the seating was filled up by over 100 audience members.

Excepting the audience, the meeting began uneventfully. Roll call was taken, and board chair Teree Caldwell-Johnson was the only absent member. The agenda and minutes were approved, and superintendent Dr. Tom Ahart recognized East High School for their “Science Bound” program.

This was followed by a unanimous vote to pass the consent items, and another unanimous vote to deny any late applications to open enrollment. The next vote was on a revisal to management limitations 2.3, on the treatment of employees.

ML 2.3

This was the item that drew the notable crowd, three of whom took the floor to voice their opinions on the revisal. One of these voices was from Pat Sweeney, a former member of the Des Moines Education Association. He said that he was proud of the school board for not only discussing the item, but for ultimately passing it.

“You can talk the talk, but you guys are walking the walk. Thank you,” Sweeney said.

ML 2.3 touches on several topics, but the most notable aspect was its allowance of teachers or representatives for teachers to bargain with the superintendent on such matters as hours, vacations, leaves of absence and grievance policies, among others.

The item was passed unanimously, with acting chair Cindy Elsbernd taking care say that if Caldwell-Johnson had been present, she would have voted in favor as well. The vote was met with ~20 seconds of standing ovation from the audience.

Some board members, including Natasha Newcomb and Rob Barron, voiced their appreciation for the approval of ML 2.3.

“We’ve had more meetings with this particular policy than any other policy in the past three years,” Newcomb said. “I love that we were able to compromise on the spirit of what this policy means for our students, our staff, our families.”

Meeting Adjourned

Following the approval of this item, Elsbernd announced a ten-minute recess. Most board members spent the break speaking with audience members, who thanked the board for passing the item. The majority of the crowd left during the recess, leaving fewer than ten people to view the rest of the board meeting.

The final items on the agenda passed as uneventfully as the first did. Several audience members brought forward proposals that were discussed, and the meeting was adjourned at a running time of just under two hours.

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