Lawrence school board and teachers association negotiators are far apart on deciding how much to raise salaries for the next school year.
Board negotiators on Wednesday presented their initial offer of a 3.4 percent increase in salary and benefits, which would cost the district an extra $1.54 million compared with last year.
The offer includes $556,166 to account for how much of a boost current teachers would get based on the existing pay schedule, and adds an extra $89,854 to it.
Lead board negotiator Frank Harwood said the salary proposal essentially gives teachers the entire extra funding voters approved in the April local-option budget election.
But Lawrence Education Association negotiators have proposed a 5.6 percent increase to the salary schedule, which would cost $2.2 million.
"We are competing with surrounding districts who have higher pay than we do," LEA President Adela Solis said.
Board negotiators in their proposal included benefits such as $162,000 on more planning time for elementary teachers and $646,920 to start a new retirement plan, which are both part of the negotiations.
Teachers are paid according to a salary schedule that accounts for how long they have worked in the district and how many educational degrees they have.
The two sides disagree about how much money the district has to spend on raises. LEA negotiators say the board has about $3.5 million in new money from the state for next year. Administrators and board members say only $1.8 million can be spent on salaries.
Harwood said the LEA's proposal would cost about $6 million if it includes changing the retirement plan and about $4.6 million without.
"That is so far from any kind of authority we have, that we don't feel like we can move because either we're going to be moving toward a settlement, or we're going to be so far apart that it's not going that direction," Harwood said.
But LEA negotiators say the board team's current raise offer was inadequate, especially considering the board wants to add two more contract days for professional development.
They also said the district continues to fall behind salaries in the area and that the district has dropped from 49 percent to 47 percent in the last three years on how much of the overall budget it spends on teacher salaries, according to Kansas National Education Association data.
Board negotiators said the whole package needs to be considered, including retirement plans, when comparing Lawrence to other districts.
The two sides also argued about why teachers had left the district the last few years. LEA negotiators said salary was a major factor. Board negotiators said data don't completely show that, but LEA negotiators say not enough questions are asked about why teachers leave the district.
"If we want to have this discussion, what we need to do is change the questions on the exit interview and get meaningful data," Solis said.
Negotiations will resume June 10.