School district and Lawrence Education Association negotiators are clearing the way to discuss money as contract talks ramp up.
"I would anticipate that next week we'll be in a position to agree or agree not to agree," said Kim Bodensteiner, an administrator and member of the district's negotiating team.
The LEA, which represents the district's teachers, is seeking an additional $2.5 million for salaries and pressing for expansion of planning time for elementary school teachers, plus other contract changes.
Those high-ticket items were sidelined at the latest meeting Monday as negotiators hashed out other nonmonetary items, such as a LEA request that teachers be informed about the details or reason for their suspension in the event that they are temporary dismissed from their duties.
Both sides are scheduled to gather next week at the negotiating table in three sessions: at 1 p.m. each day from Monday to June 27.
A proposal to increase planning time for elementary school teachers is estimated to cost $1.7 million for additional staffing.
Currently, elementary teachers have 40 minutes four days a week and 30 minutes on Wednesdays. To raise that amount to the time allotted to high school teachers would require giving elementary teachers 135 additional planning minutes each week.
"We keep having more and more initiatives placed on teachers - whether it be from No Child Left Behind, whether it be from the state," said Kelly Barker, lead negotiator for the LEA. "The disparity between high school, middle and elementary is huge, and yet those teachers are being asked to essentially do the same kind of job - teach children.
"Some people get to do it with a lot more time to plan for it. Some people do it with a lot less. That's not fair."
Bodensteiner said the district sees the need for more planning time for elementary teachers and must consider the issue alongside other budget items.