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Newscast 2.09.24: Sioux City School Board to discuss teacher salaries; ACLU report raises concerns about Iowa & Nebraska immigration proceedings; Drought conditions lessen

Sioux City Community School District headquarters
Sioux City Community School District headquarters

An important meeting will be held on Monday, when the Sioux City School Board members will dig into setting the budget for the next school year.

That meeting will be held at 4 p.m. in the downtown district administrative building, and a big component will involve teacher pay. The board members will review the teacher salary schedule and the potential impact of the state legislature’s proposed increase in the minimum annual teacher salary to $50,000 dollars.

School board President Jan George said the budget and legislative process is playing out at the same time that the district will soon begin the collective bargaining process to set salaries and other details of union contracts with teachers and other employee groups. The employees are represented by the Sioux City Education Association and one other union group, who will start the process by making an opening proposal on March 5.

The teacher pay increase proposal came out in January from Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds. That measure is currently in a bill that would also greatly change the financing of the Area Education Agency system that provides school districts with supplemental services that a lot of smaller schools cannot afford on their own.

Roughly 160 of the 1,100 Sioux City School District teachers make less than $50,000 in salary, and could be impacted if the teacher pay measure gets enacted.

Additionally, the ACLU of Nebraska on Friday aired its new report that asserts that judges in the Omaha immigration court are routinely compromising people’s due process rights. That court has jurisdiction over people living in Nebraska and Iowa, and about 40 percent of the removal proceedings in the court involve people from Iowa.

Report Author Dylan Severino said the deportation proceedings were typically short, often with a length of four minutes. Additionally, Severino said 20 percent of the cases the people had no representation, and there was insufficient interpretation services for non-English speakers particularly from Central American nations.

Rose Godinez said regardless of immigration status, people deserve a full fair process in their hearings. She said she hopes that state and federal officials take note, and work on systemic changes, including a path to citizenship.

Nebraska ACLU officials said the data came from in-person observations of more than 500 immigration hearings, often called deportation proceedings, over the last year. Those are the initial hearings, not the final decision on whether a person will be deported.

Brian Blackford, an immigration attorney based in Omaha, said the nation’s immigration court system is facing a large backlog of cases and shortage of judges.

In other news, while nearly all of Iowa remains in drought, recent snowfalls, followed by unseasonably warm weather, HAVE helped recharge soil moisture in many areas.

State Climatologist Justin Glisan said recent snowmelt has recharged soil moisture across most of Iowa, but the state remains in the grip of the longest drought Iowa has seen since 1954.

Almost all areas have been in some form of drought for 188 weeks. Glisan said many areas, especially in eastern Iowa, are short one year’s worth of precipitation over the last four years.

Glisan says the U.S. is in an El Nino weather pattern, which should begin to transition to wetter La Nina conditions in late Spring and early Summer.