Lawrence teacher and school board negotiators Tuesday jointly declared impasse after they failed to reach an agreement on a salary package for the 1992-93 school year.
A mediator from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service now will be assigned to try to help the negotiating teams find a middle ground. This is the second year in a row that Lawrence teacher negotiations have gone to impasse.
If the mediator isn't successful in helping the board and LEA teams reach an agreement, then a fact-finder will be sent to help the district. Under the fact-finding procedure, each negotiating team presents a case for its proposal.
If both negotiating teams cannot agree to the fact-finder's proposal, the school board could issue unilateral contracts to teachers.
On Monday, representatives of the Lawrence Education Assn. had proposed raising by 9.95 percent the amount of money spent on teacher salaries and fringe benefits, coming down from their last proposal of a 13.75 percent increase.
Lawrence school board representatives said Monday that they could not change their June offer of a 6.95 percent increase without further consultation with the board. After meeting with the board Tuesday morning, negotiators reported Tuesday afternoon that the board was unwilling to change its offer.
SOON thereafter, LEA spokesman Sam Rabiola announced that the LEA was declaring an impasse. Bill Wilson, the district's director of human resources and spokesman for the board team, said the board team would file jointly with the LEA.
A written statement provided by Wilson said that in holding its proposed salary increase to 6.95 percent, the board is "endeavoring to balance all priorities related to the operation of Lawrence Public Schools."
The statement says the board has approved additional general fund expenditures for 1992-93 that would provide "essential programs, staff and materials to accommodate the increasing numbers of students."
The approximately $1,080,000 in increased expenditures provides for such things as hiring eight new teachers and bringing paraprofessional staffing levels to where they were in 1990-91. A $2.6 million drop in state aid to the district had moved the board to reduce those staffing levels during 1991-92.
THE STATEMENT also says that with the 6.95 percent offer, the district can provide that salary increase for teachers as well as a 5 percent salary increase for administrators and classified personnel for a total cost of $1,327,763.
To provide any salary increases, the board will have to use its local option to raise the general fund mill levy above the 32 mills set for school districts statewide. A mill is $1 of property taxes for every $1,000 in assessed valuation.
The board has the authority to increase the general fund levy by as much as 7.4 mills to bring in up to an additional $2.9 million.
The statement says that balancing school priorities includes "providing adequate facilities for teaching and learning while being sensitive to the need to keep the mill levy at a level that will be supported by the community."
RABIOLA said Tuesday that the Kansas Legislature changed the school finance formula this year to provide more equitable funding of districts statewide, adding that "part of that funding was for equalizing teacher salaries."
"We don't want the district to let teachers fall farther behind than they already are," Rabiola said.
While the Kansas-National Education Assn. says Lawrence ranks 14th out of 304 Kansas school districts in terms of its average teacher salary, Lawrence school officials have said the district ranks 242nd in terms of its starting teacher salary.
The board team's proposal would provide a 4.7 percent increase in the base salary, which is used to determine all teachers' salaries. That increase would put the starting salary at $20,276, up from $19,358 in the 1991-92 school year.
The LEA team's proposal would increase the base salary by 7.6 percent, putting the starting salary at $20,831.
Both proposals include a 1.67 percent increase to extend the school calendar by three days. Both proposals include implementing the district's salary schedule, which provides pay increases for longevity and additional graduate study completed. And the teams also have agreed to spend an additional $117,000 to cover a $15 increase in monthly health insurance premiums.