The Lawrence school board on Monday night approved a pay and compensation package for teachers of nearly $3 million.
The agreement is an 8.1 percent increase in total salary dollars. The base pay for a starting teacher will rise to $29,550. The actual percentage of salary increase per teacher will vary based upon experience and other factors.
Teachers ratified the agreement on Oct. 14. Monday's board meeting vote was unanimous.
The agreement also calls for the establishment of two "problem-solving" task forces. One will review compensation and one will review elementary plan time with a report to the negotiations team by Jan. 16.
On another issue, the board unanimously gave preliminary approval to the district's new policy on breath alcohol testing of high school students. A final reading and vote on the policy will occur in 20 days.
The policy outlines how the testing will be done at dances and other school-sponsored functions and outlines the punishments that will follow for those violating alcohol rules.
In general, the policy allows school administrators to determine possible alcohol use without the aid of a Breathalyzer device by observing certain indicators. Breathalyzer tests will then be conducted in private.
All students entering a school dance will be required to get a "passive" test, which means they will breathe toward the Breathalyzer device. If that test indicates the use of alcohol then the student will be taken to a private area where an "active" test will be conducted. The active test requires the student to breathe directly into a Breathalyzer.
In general, a student who tests positive for alcohol will not be allowed to attend any more school dances for one year. The consequences are more serious for a second violation.
Board members also noted that the district already has a policy with severe consequences for students found with alcohol or drugs at a school dance or school property.
"I think we have to be extremely vigilant, because I'm scared to death of our students or any students driving on our roads in any impaired way," board member Craig Grant said. "I think we need to do anything we can as a district to keep that from happening."
Supt. Randy Weseman and other board members agreed.
"Most of our kids come to these dances and are perfectly fine, but the few that have chosen to abuse this have required us to take this position," Weseman said.
In another matter, the board approved a plan putting elementary school age students who are learning the English language at both Hillcrest and Cordley schools.
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