Archive for Monday, October 5, 2009

State budget crisis makes it harder for Kansas school districts, teachers to come to agreement

20 percent of districts haven’t reached deals

October 5, 2009


Area salaries

Here’s a look at teacher salary deals in some nearby districts.

De Soto: Teachers received a 1.25 percent raise overall. However, the base salary for first-year teachers with no experience remained the same as the 2008-2009 school year. New money was added to the salary schedule for veterans.

Blue Valley: 1.72 percent increase.

Olathe: While the base salary for teachers did not go up, the school board did implement a step increase on the existing scale for teachers based on longevity. That averaged out to a 1.73 percent raise.

Shawnee Mission: In 2008-2009, the district and the teachers agreed on a two-year contract that included a minimum of a 3.5 percent increase on the base salary each year. They have kept that agreement.

Teachers in one-fifth of Kansas school districts — including Lawrence — are working this year without new contracts even though school has been in session for weeks.

Researchers say the state budget crisis has loomed large on talks this year.

“Districts are trying to figure out a way to do something but not build it in because next year is going to be even worse,” said Jim Hays, a research specialist with the Kansas Association of School Boards.

After districts had extra money to work with the past few years, the recession hit them hard forcing many to cut services for savings. The numbers also affected bargaining talks.

According to KASB data through last Friday, the median base salary and fringe benefits package for teachers is $36,810 in districts that have new teacher contracts — a 1.2 percent increase from 2008-2009. The past two years, the median percentage increase was 4 percent each year.

“The settlements have been pretty disappointing, to say the least,” said Wade Anderson, director of research and negotiations for the Kansas National Education Association.

Negotiators for the Lawrence school board and Lawrence Education Association will return to the table at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at Lawrence High School, 1901 La. The two sides are currently $140,000 apart on salary, as school board negotiators propose about a 1.1 percent increase compared to last year.

The LEA’s total $600,000 offer includes $140,000 for horizontal movement on the salary schedule, which rewards teachers for increasing their own college credit hours. The teachers’ offer would also include adding money to boost vertical movement, which rewards teachers for years of service with the district.

School board negotiators agree to the $140,000 for horizontal movement, but they want to spread the rest of the extra money out among all certified, licensed staff for a one-time payment of $350, which LEA negotiators oppose.

Hays, of the KASB, said state budget cuts that affected local districts made it difficult for districts to boost all three main compensation areas — horizontal and vertical movement plus upgrading health insurance. Many districts have offered one-time payments because they are afraid they will have even less money to offer next year, he said.

In fact, the highest increase in compensation this year has come from two districts that signed two-year pacts at the beginning of last year, Shawnee Mission and Frontenac, Hays said.

“You throw those people out, and everybody else is pretty much hurting,” he said.

Anderson, of the KNEA, said it’s been common for talks this year to include minimal raises.

“What I do think is that in some cases, most teacher groups have been pretty respectful of that and have maybe been too respectful, in some cases too anxious to help out and carry out a lot of the burden themselves,” he said.

Hays said he was not surprised by the number of districts that have not yet settled given the state’s budget situation.

Last year the Lawrence district reached a deal with LEA negotiators in August after a federal mediator was brought in. Anderson said it was “unheard of” for 20 percent of districts not to have settled by October.

“That’s really rare, and it’s not necessarily because they are just really deadlocked and arguing,” he said. “I think it’s more often the case they are just struggling to try to figure out how to do what’s right and what they can afford. It’s just so complicated.”


youngjayhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

Lawrence teachers - Be patient and hold out for the $140,000, the district has it!

LogicMan 8 years, 7 months ago

"Be patient and hold out for the $140,000"

For like years, and have the district hire cheap "temporary" replacements?

No, the current pros are better, but they need to understand that they can't get raises this year without putting other Kansans and some of their own out on the streets.

volunteer 8 years, 7 months ago

Good article. I had been waiting for a summing up of statewide negotiations.

I never would have lumped together Frontenac with Shawnee Mission. Congrats to the teachers in those districts. Going for the two year deal is always a gamble.

At least Lawrence teachers have a good early retirement plan and lots of collaboration time....

Shardwurm 8 years, 7 months ago

I say let them go. The universities are spewing teachers out loaded down with $80,000 of debt by the thousands every year. Any one of them would step up and take a job if they could get one. Sure beats waiting tables and bar-tending.

These 'professionals' should understand that they are very replaceable. They need to realize that there isn't a single job out there that would pay them what they are making right now for what they do.

There is a line of recruits lining up at the door to take their job. I say let 'em.

kansasmutt 8 years, 7 months ago

And teachers say the do it for the kids. Looks like money is the real issue. Maybe they need to rethink building smarter schools and save some money back for tough times. I dont see any other jobs handing out raises, so why do teachers feel special ? I am suprised to see them working with no contract, that does show that they know a line has formed to replace them.

ku_tailg8 8 years, 7 months ago

$36,000 a years sounds kinda low. I'm not sure what a decent salary would be. I know I would love to have 3 months off during the summer and a couple weeks off around the holidays. I guess $36000 isn't so bad after all considering its for 9 months of work excluding holidays.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 7 months ago

"They need to realize that there isn't a single job out there that would pay them what they are making right now for what they do."

Yea, what they do is easy and unimportant. Let's just fire them all, hire some prison guards with GED's, and quit this whole charade about "education." (If their parents hadn't failed in the practice of abstinence, this wouldn't even be an issue.)

KSManimal 8 years, 7 months ago

Shardwurm & Kansasmutt - show me this "line of recruits" waiting for teaching jobs. If you'd do your homework, you'd know there is a shortage of teachers these days, not a surplus.

The district and the teachers are $140,000 apart on salary proposals. $140K divided by about 900 teachers is $155 per teacher. Divide that by 12. That comes to a whopping $12.90 per month for each teacher.

You'd think teacher morale and retention would be worth $12.90/month to the BOE. Perhaps it isn't.

thelonious 8 years, 7 months ago

kansasmutt, ku_tailg8, etc. -

My wife teaches high school English, mostly AP (advanced placement) juniors. She has a masters degree and is ABD (all but dissertation) on her Ph. D. The districts do want quality, highly-educated teachers, and that does require an investment of time and money - 6 years and counting for my wife for her masters & Ph. D (she was a grad. assistant at KU for five years). She does it mostly because she enjoys it, but she does expect to be paid a fair wage, because it is hard work and not just anybody can do it.

As for her "work year", here is the reality. During school weeks, her workday runs about 7:30-4:30, or about 8.5 hours with 30 min. out for lunch. She then spends on average 2 hours a night at home grading papers and preparing for the next day's classes, so we're talking 10.5 hours a day or 57.5 hours a week, With more time on weekends devoted to reading class assignments or grading, she easily works at least a 60 hour week while classes are in session.

Summer break for teachers is only about two months (early June to early August), but with Christmas break and spring break thrown in there are probably about three months off. But if you take 60 hours a week for 3/4 of the year (39 x 60), you get 2340 hours per year, considerably more than the "standard" 40 hour work week over a 52 week year (2080 hours).

With the hours they work during the school year, two months off during the summer is absoultely essential to teachers so they can recharge their batteries, as well as continue their education.

As the husband of a teacher, I get confused by what the general public wants - they want teachers to be "well-educated" and "qualified", but then they want them to work cheaply as well, at something as inportant as educating our children. You can't have both.

Any of you who think teaching is easy, or a path to riches, get off your butts and get your education degree and go get it! In the meantime, stop propagating the myths that teaching is easy, that teachers are overpaid, that they only work 9 months a year, etc. Most importantly, if you don't know the facts about what you are talking about, either find out first or stop talking.

SeaFox 8 years, 7 months ago

Shardwurm (Anonymous) said… "I say let them go. The universities are spewing teachers out loaded down with $80,000 of debt by the thousands every year. Any one of them would step up and take a job if they could get one. Sure beats waiting tables and bar-tending.

These 'professionals' should understand that they are very replaceable."

Yup. Because experience isn't worth anything in a teacher. :rolleyes:

tigerman03 8 years, 7 months ago

Pay RAISE?!? I understand their dilemma, BUT right now there are a lot of folks who are NOT getting raises and 6 job seekers for every open position out there. I agree that teachers have a tough profession, but in these tough times, I think they should be grateful that they HAVE jobs! My wife's been looking for work for more than a year now and can't find employment. Message to Teacher's Union: GET REAL and be grateful for the work!!

jhawk926 8 years, 7 months ago

Well said thelonious. However, being an educator myself, I have to say when there is no money, there is no money.

kugrad 8 years, 7 months ago

When teachers move on the salary schedule, it costs money. They have a negotiated agreement that contains a salary schedule with advancement in pay for years of experience, until you top out and don't advance any more. This can be thought of as a raise, but it can also very reasonably be considered the board honoring the contract they have with teachers. Most years, it will cost more to implement the salary schedule. It takes more money as people move through and lots of employees moving a tiny bit adds up. It isn't like any teacher will get a whopping raise. Most teachers are now making LESS than they did before, because of cuts to insurance coverage. Prescriptions that cost $40 are now $120. That is a pay cut. No reporting on that by the LJW though. People keep acting like the recession is an excuse not to honor contracts of public employees. Well, teachers already take home less than those with comparable levels of education and experience, so why should they be expected to give up their scheduled raises too? Businesses do not work like that, if you haven't noticed prices have steadily increased during the recession for the small things we need everyday. Food, energy, etc. have risen. Gas remains very high. The business class is getting paid, at least the top end, it is the middle class getting the squeeze, and teachers are in the lower part of the middle class, so give them a break and pay what they are due.

oohmgrover 8 years, 7 months ago

"KSManimal (Anonymous) says…

Shardwurm & Kansasmutt - show me this “line of recruits” waiting for teaching jobs. If you'd do your homework, you'd know there is a shortage of teachers these days, not a surplus."

No, do your homework. I'm one of many unemployed, newly-certified teachers that I know. There is a reason that substitute teaching pools are so saturated now too, and most districts are only accepting subs with state certification requirements rather than accepting emergency sub licenses. There is a glut of unemployed new teachers right now who have been told all along that yes, there is a shortage, but now no one will hire even if there is a shortage.

OutlawJHawk 8 years, 7 months ago

Hire a couple more administrators...then maybe they can help figure this whole mess out. Hmmm, maybe we are on to something...

ku_tailg8 8 years, 7 months ago

Thelonius...I agree with what you said. Your wife clearly deserves to make much more than what is reported in this article. Like with most jobs, you should make more money if you are highly educated. A bachelor degree nowadays is what a high school diploma used to be back in the day. I'm on board with your comment. But to be fair alot of people take work with them home and don't get paid for doing it.

thelonious 8 years, 7 months ago

ku-tailg8 says -

"But to be fair alot of people take work with them home and don't get paid for doing it."

This is true, and also possibly unfair to employees. What I was trying to illustrate, though, was that what appears to outsiders to be a 9-month job for teachers is really a 12-month job compressed into 9 months on the calendar.

At any rate, I appreciate your follow-up. I know that I would not have the understanding of the demands and hours for teachers if I wasn't married to one.

What I would like to see less of is on this board is folks (not aiming this at you) spouting off like experts about things which they actually know little about. I, for example, know that engineers are paid really well, certainly better than teachers, but I really do not have any idea what they do during the day or how many hours they work or if they take work home, so I cannot say if they are overpaid or not.

I'd like all of you who think teaching is easy, pays well, is simply babysitting kids (we do hear that), to get to know a teacher and find out more about what it is like and what they do before you make judgements.

Yes, teachers are lucky to have a job in this economy - actually anyone who has a job is lucky to have a job, not just teachers.

Jeff Plinsky 8 years, 7 months ago

kugrad makes the salient point - this isn't really a raise after you figure in insurance costs. The district doesn't have very much money, and what they do have exists because they cut programs. However, the money they have is insufficient to keep up with rising health care costs, so the district and union are working together to put what little there is into salary, and allowing the insurance costs to rise significantly. The question is whether to put the money on the salary schedule or to pay it as a one time "bonus."

Over all, teaching families will be bringing home much less in their paycheck, regardless of the outcome. In some cases as much as $11,000 less. Which one of you trolls wants to agree to work your current job for $11,000 less per year, and be expected to be happy about it?

So, tigerman and shardwurm, I would argue that teachers ARE willing to sacrifice their own well-being, and the well being of their families, for the sake of other peoples' kids! But if they can reduce their pay decrease by $12.90 per month shouldn't they be encouraged to do so?

Paul R Getto 8 years, 7 months ago

Education and social services cuts from last year are becoming more obvious. The plan is to cut twice as much next year--perhaps for several years into the future. This should translate into 7,000-8,000 more education jobs and some noticeable service cuts next year. There are three options: 1. Follow the Legislative Leadership plan. 2. Enhance revenue to support services. 3. "Allow" more people and entities to participate in the effort. Since 90% of property and about 75% of sales are exempt, there may be a few possibilities..

Seach for Hugo Wall at Wichita State University and 'erosion,' Exceptions to the tax code often make sense. Others may be obsolete and needing review. Some of the exemptions are due to people of means knowing persons in power, which might lead to a tax reduction. Nothing wrong with that. If "no taxation without representation" is a powerful phrase, so is "exemption from taxation by gaining access to a representative."

KSManimal 8 years, 7 months ago

oohmgrover -

The reason there is a flood of substitute teachers right now is because one of the questions on the unemployment benefits application is "Have you applied for a substitute teaching license?"

tigerman03 8 years, 7 months ago

ILLTEACHYOU: That wasn't the argument that I was making...of course teachers and their families sacrifice. Unfortunately, that's the nature of the business. My argument was and still is that there are a lot of people out there right now who are "sacrificing" and "surviving" without a job, career, hope, or future for MANY reasons. Don't you think that there are plenty of other families that are 'sacrificing' right now? State employees and many, many others aren't getting RAISES, why should teachers be any different? All that I am saying is that teachers should take a step back and be thankful that they still have employment and not look a gift horse in the mouth. GREED is what caused the mess that we are in now and shouldn't be acceptable behavior now. (By ANYONE!) If they're not careful, they could be joining all the other unfortunate ones in the unemployment line when the taxpayer cash well runs dry.

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