Archive for Thursday, September 22, 2005

Agreement on teacher pay ‘a long way apart’

September 22, 2005


Lawrence teachers and school officials on Wednesday remained split about the size of salary raise teachers should receive.

"We're still a long way apart," said Kelly Barker, a spokesman for the school districts' teachers.

Many of the roughly 30 teachers who attended the 90-minute session wore T-shirts characterizing the Lawrence school district as a minor league team that trains teachers for "major league" schools in Northeast Kansas.

The shirts bore charts that showed Lawrence teachers earn thousands of dollars less than their peers in neighboring Johnson County.

"It's embarrassing," said Kristyn Nieder, a fifth-grade teacher at Quail Run. "Here's Lawrence, a college town that's so well-educated, and we don't even pay our starting teachers $30,000 a year - Wellsville pays its starting teachers $31,000 a year."

Southwest Junior High teachers, from left, Maureen Williams, Jim Frink, Danielle Lotton-Barker, Jane Liggett, Christine Drinkhouse and Renee Harders don special T-shirts to the latest round of teacher negotiations.

Southwest Junior High teachers, from left, Maureen Williams, Jim Frink, Danielle Lotton-Barker, Jane Liggett, Christine Drinkhouse and Renee Harders don special T-shirts to the latest round of teacher negotiations.

The teachers and district have settled one issue: They agreed Wednesday to stick, for now, with the existing salary "schedule," even though both sides agree it's broken.

But money remains an issue.

Using the existing salary structure, the teachers proposed raising the base salary figure by $1,500. With incentives for longevity and other considerations, most of the district's teachers would take home an additional $2,400 to $3,000 annually.

District representatives balked at the $1,500 figure. Instead, they offered to add $2.6 million into the formula, an amount, they said, that represents an 8 percent raise.

But the teachers argued the $2.6 million figure includes payroll expenses and health insurance premiums and should not be confused with an increase in take-home pay.

"I'm not worried about 'percent,' I'm worried about dollars," Barker said.

Barker and Mary Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the district's negotiations team, agreed that for most teachers, the district's $2.6 million offer would result in lesser raises than the teachers' proposal.

District representatives agreed to come up with an apples-to-apples comparison in time for the groups' next meeting, Sept. 30.

Nieder bristled at the district's claim that teachers are in line for an 8 percent raise.

"After you take out the payroll expenses, it'll be closer to 5 percent," she said. "And that's after getting no increase for all of last year."

Nieder conceded that the district had followed through on its promise to offset last year's stalled negotiations with retroactive, lump-sum raise payments in August, shortly after the district received its first increase-in-state-aid check.

The back of the shirts show the comparison of Lawrence teacher wages with that of nearby districts.

The back of the shirts show the comparison of Lawrence teacher wages with that of nearby districts.

"You know how much I got? Seven hundred dollars," Nieder said. "And I did better than most - that's $700 for the year."

Al Gyles, a 34-year math teacher with a master's degree, said his check was for $125.

"We have a lot of ground to make up," said Dan Karasek, a fifth-grade teacher at Prairie Park.

Nearly two-thirds of the state's 300 school districts have ratified contracts with their teachers.

"Actually, the confirmed number is 194," said Jim Hays, a research specialist at the Kansas Association of School Boards. "Another 13 reached agreement, but they've not yet been ratified."

Statewide, the median raise for teachers - a combination of salary, supplemental contracts, benefits - stands at 5 percent, Hays said.

Raises in the state's bigger districts, he said, tend to be larger than those in the medium-size and smaller districts. The larger districts have benefited from additional aid for bilingual and at-risk students while the smaller districts' budgets have been hurt by persistent declines in enrollment.

Hays said Lawrence is in the unfortunate position of being a large district that's lost enrollment in recent years.


Jayhawk226 12 years, 6 months ago

Change the State law....unionize and strike!!!

Enough of this "teacher association" as we do in Chicago, unionize! And not just 15% of the teachers....EVERYBODY is on board!

You don't get the pay you deserve, strike.

Solidarity forever!!!

Check out a site on teacher and administrator salaries.

You'll be amazed by what teachers and administrators earn in the Chicagoland area. Top administrator earned over $330,000 and the top teacher earned over $170,000.

tce73 12 years, 6 months ago

Negotiations have gotten us nowhere. In the meantime, teachers pay MORE for health insurance and receive LESS in pay. Paychecks - take home pay - are going DOWN, not UP. Absolutely ridiculous. For the third year in a row. Sick and tired of this teacher negotiation BS. Get these people the salary they deserve - they are supporting their familes on these pathetic salaries!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

dotteboy 12 years, 6 months ago

Without a pay raise, how can teachers afford to put food on their families? Is our children learning?

Sandra Willis 12 years, 6 months ago

macon, The teachers in Lawrence have the option to schedule their paychecks to be paid during the full year. They are required to continue at University-level classes, to increase their knowledge (making them more valuable to the community). I do not know if they get paid for these classes.

brainfodder 12 years, 6 months ago

Macon, your calculations are based on teachers working 40 hours a week. Find one teacher who does that. The parking lot at the high school (teacher spaces) are full by 7:30 and not empty until 5:00. Add to that the work taken home for grading, the club sponsoring (unpaid), the lesson planning in the evenings, and the parent contact done in the evening, and you have a work week easily beyond 40.

Teachers do not get paid to attend classes, and the cost of attending the classes is greater than the pay increase for having taken them. This year, teachers aren't being paid for having taken more classes, even if they have finished another degree because the board won't agree to do so yet.

In addition, when do you think teachers write their curriculum, activities, tests, quizzes, homework assignments, or do the research needed to keep current on their subjects? During the summer time that you seem to view as an extended vacation.

I personally wouldn't mind if teachers had fewer sick days to work with, if we could expose them to fewer children. Children, for those of you who have never met one, are walking talking disease factories.

And saying that teachers in college towns should expect to be underpaid because of oversupply is not accurate. Please examine the state board of education's records of newly certified science and math teachers on their website to find out how scarce they are.

laughingatallofu 12 years, 6 months ago


Are you blowing smoke or do you have information to back up you allegations that teachers are "going shopping on a regular basis"? That's a pretty serious charge. Why don't you take your allegations to the school board? We ought to fire their butts, right? So, what does macon47 do all day? Stalk teachers? Isn't stalking a crime as well?

Shardwurm 12 years, 6 months ago

"But any teacher that thinks they can support a family on a first years teachers salary, has not done their homework."

I couldn't support a family in my first year out of college either and I'm not a teacher. I'd wager that most 'first years' (sic) salaries will not support a family in ANY job.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.