Local teachers have ratified an agreement with the Lawrence school board that will provide them with a 3.87 percent salary increase next year, representatives of the Lawrence Education Assn. announced this morning.
Doran Chaput, spokesman for the LEA, said the number of votes in favor of the agreement surpassed 300 this morning, providing the simple majority of affirmative votes needed for the ratification. The LEA is continuing to count votes as they come in, Chaput said.
The 3.87 percent salary increase was agreed upon by LEA and school board representatives when they wrapped up negotiations on their Master Agreement two weeks ago. The school board is expected to ratify the agreement at its meeting tonight.
WHILE THE total salary increase will be 3.87 percent, the current base salary of $17,105 upon which all salaries are determined will increase only 2.5 percent, or $400. The other 1.37 percent increase will come with the extra pay teachers would have received anyway for having worked with the district one more year.
A teacher earning this year's average district salary of $28,931 will earn $30,050 next year. Head coaches, who receive 18 percent of the base salary for their coaching duties, would receive $3,150 for such duties, a $72 increase over this year.
The school district's contribution to teachers' health insurance premiums also will increase by $20 a month, or 13 percent, if the board ratifies the agreement.
Another change to which board negotiators agreed was to allow teachers to retire at the age of 57. Now, teachers cannot retire before 60 and still receive benefits.
IT ALSO WAS agreed that an early retiree's benefits and health insurance premiums would be paid for five years after his or her retirement from the district. Early retirees who want health coverage beyond those five years up to the age of 65 can stay with the district program by paying their own premiums.
The funding for the earlier retirement will come out of the "fall adjustment," which is the extra money the district has each year when experienced, higher-salaried teachers leave and are replaced by new, lower-salaried teachers. Hence, the school district will not have to budget new money for the early retirement package.
IF RATIFIED by the board, the new Master Agreement also will:
Provide teachers with two paychecks in September as opposed to the one payment on the 20th of each month that teachers usually receive. The rationale behind the double payment to be made Sept. 10 and Sept. 20 is that new teachers wouldn't have to wait as long before receiving their first paycheck.
Allow teachers to establish annuities with any company they wish, not just companies that already are serving the district. Chaput said the change could reduce solitications of teachers by annuity companies, which presently must serve at least five Lawrence teachers to work with the district.
Eliminate makeup days for classes canceled by weather and add two regular school days to the calendar. Because students will be attending school for two days beyond what state law requires, they will be allowed to miss up to four days because of weather without having to make them up.
The new calendar will eliminate the possibility of having to use Memorial Day as a makeup day, which the district would have had to do this year had negotiators not decided to extend this year's calendar by one day.