Archive for Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mediator to get involved in contract talks

With a $1 million gap between the two sides, it appears a mediator will try to solve differences between the Lawrence school board and teachers' association negotiators.

June 12, 2008


The two sides have dug in with a $1 million gap between them.

Lawrence school board negotiators announced Wednesday evening their intention to bring in a federal mediator to help with teacher-contract talks.

Lawrence Education Association negotiators disagreed and said the board's team hasn't let the process play out. The school board should up its offer for teacher raises, according to the LEA.

"It's fair to say the board has talked about this issue a number of times," said board member Marlene Merrill, also a negotiator. "The board highly regards the teaching staff in Lawrence and has worked very hard over a number of years to improve salary conditions. We are in very tight budget times, and I think the board has done the best that we can do."

"I just want you to be aware of the statement that the board is sending to the teachers," LEA President Adela Solis, a Cordley School teacher, responded during the session at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive, with more than a dozen teachers watching.

After each side made maneuvers on offers Tuesday, they spent most of Wednesday's session explaining their positions.

LEA negotiators are asking for $1.85 million to be added to the salary schedule. Board negotiators have offered adding $825,728 to the schedule, but their offer also includes an extra $1.1 million - mostly $646,920 to start a new retirement system and $324,000 to give more planning time to elementary teachers.

LEA negotiators say the planning time costs shouldn't be mentioned in a compensation package. The board's team has also proposed adding one day to the work year to make it 187 days for returning teachers and 191 for new ones.

LEA negotiators have said the current offer for raises is inadequate, partly because it would give less than a 0.75 percent raise to veteran teachers. They have also said a higher offer was needed to compete with area districts.

Administrator Frank Harwood, the board's chief negotiator, said the district's benefits package keeps it competitive overall in the state.

At the end of Wednesday's session, teacher negotiators said the school board should discuss increasing its offer in coming weeks before talks resumed, but board negotiators said it was unlikely they would budge.

Harwood said he intended to file paperwork acknowledging an impasse to begin the process for bringing in a U.S. Labor Department mediator.

"When based on the positions of both teams it doesn't seem like an agreement is possible, then the next step is a mediator, and we think that's the most productive way to move ahead," he said.

LEA's leaders said they wouldn't sign the impasse papers but indicated they would participate in talks with a mediator later this summer.

LEA team members said they were "shocked" when the board's team mentioned mediation this week because, LEA negotiators said, the two sides have talked about salaries for only a month, not long enough to let the sessions run their course.

"For them to already have an amount that they're capped out at, in my mind, goes contrary to what (the negotiating process) is about," Solis said.


lawrencemom 10 years ago

The board is putting almost $2 million on the table. The school district is on a "fixed income" and faces the same raising prices we do as consumers. Seems generous to me.

KSManimal 10 years ago

The district is NOT on a "fixed income". They have around $5 million in new budget authority for next year."Almost $2 million" sounds like a lot, but only about $800K of that is new money on the salary scale. For veteran teachers at the top of the scale, the BOE is offering a $300 raise. Couple that with the BOE's intent to add a day to the contract year, and considering the top teacher's per diem of $256, and what you really have is a $44 raise. That and $10 might buy a tank of gas.

absolutelyridiculous 10 years ago

Wow. We passed a mill levy increase in the last election for teacher raises, and it wasn't enough! I agree teachers are not paid enough. But the Board is tapped beyond what they can provide. Somebody say something! This is ridiculous.

Chimes 10 years ago

I've heard that teachers would not be compensated for the day the BOE wants to add to the schedule. Is this correct? If so, is this legal? Sure does not sound ethical. Is the sample $44 raise per year, per month . . .?

salad 10 years ago

MattressMan makes the good point. With the cost of commuting like it is now, I think the district is holding all the cards. There's also a glut of people certified to teach in Lawrence and they'll do it for less money while their spouse is at KU or after the kids are back in school, etc...The district can just say, "Here's what you get, don't like it? Go find a job in Blue Valley, enjoy the $5/gallon gas"

Stephen Roberts 10 years ago

The problem with the LEA wanting more and more money is it hurts the rest of the district employees. Unlike the LEA, the rest of the district employees get what is left over from the rasies pool after the teacher's contract is approved. The more the teachers get, the lower the rest of the employees get. Also, the rest of the employees get paid based on merit or other factors instead of tenure etc. I personally feel some of the admins are paid way too much but there are a lot people who have to do more and work more, in part to, the increase going to the LEA. They have to do more because not enough money to hire some more help.I would really like to see great teachers get paid like great teachers, good teachers get paid like good teachers, and bad teachers get paid like bad teachers.Also, I personally feel teachers should be held more accountable for their time and work. It is easy to say the do stuff at home, great that is a luxury of your job, to do some of your work at home. i can not do my work at home, so I will be at work between 10 - 12 hours a day, with major holidays off, 2 weeks vacation, oh yeah, having to work some on saturday due to work load. I am so sorry, I am not more sympathetic to their plight. Since I know some teachers and they are ok teachers, they get paid very well for their performance.Great job LEA, keeping everyone equal, with exception of education and time served, creates mediocrity. Mission accomplished!!

salad 10 years ago

Jettison 10 useless educrats from the headshed = $1 million. Problem solved.

MattressMan 10 years ago

"They have also said a higher offer was needed to compete with area districts."Guess what, they are in Lawrence not another district, if they want what the other districts have feel free to apply there. It's the same story every year they need to compete and the pay sucks. I've been hearing about teacher pay my entire life yet people still enter the profession. If it's that bad why do it at all?

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