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Archive for Saturday, July 28, 2007

Teachers, district $1M apart

July 28, 2007

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Teachers, LEA still undecided

Not much progress today between the Lawrence Education Association and district officials as the two sides work on a salary package for teachers for the next school year. Enlarge video

Negotiators for the Lawrence Education Association and school district hinted it may be time to call a mediator to help bridge the $1 million gap separating them.

On Friday, the two sides met. And about the only thing they agreed on was that they will meet again in about a month, and perhaps call in a third party later.

The three-hour session centered on more than $1 million that separates the two groups' proposals for raises in teacher salaries.

The LEA shaved $60,000 off its original proposal that sought a $2.2 million increase. And district officials boosted their proposal slightly from their last offer of $1.3 million.

"We put an offer on the table today that was over $1.4 million," said Kim Bodensteiner, the district's chief academic officer and lead negotiator.

She said that offer is the most money the district can put toward teacher salaries.

But the LEA negotiating team said the district's priorities were not in line with creating a competitive school district.

Kelly Barker, LEA's lead negotiator and Southwest Junior High social studies teacher, said his team questioned where money went in the $8 million school budget.

"We've had questions because their offer is low, compared to that $8 million and compared to where we thought that ought to be based on what they've said about teacher priorities," he said.

Bodensteiner's response is that much of the $8 million already is earmarked and the district must fulfill one-time obligations, such as funding special education teachers, an English as a Second Language Program and jump-starting a retirement program.

Both sides did agree on creating a more sustainable retirement fund for teachers.

Negotiators will meet again Aug. 22 and may consider inviting a third-party mediator to help them conclude their negotiations.

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