Archive for Thursday, October 8, 2009

Teachers, district reach deal on raises

After six months of negotiations, the Lawrence school district and its teachers have completed their talks and are close to having a contract.

October 8, 2009


Lawrence teachers will get about a 1.2 percent raise after contract negotiations between the educators and the school district wrapped up Wednesday night.

Teachers will get raises based on movement along the salary scale, meaning those teachers with more education or more experience or both will get bumps. The teachers’ negotiation team also asked for money for those teachers who are at the highest level in both of those areas, which is about 45 percent of the district’s certified staff. The raises will range from $200 to $1,500 depending on a teacher’s location on the salary scale. It will cost the district about $523,000.

“Two hundred dollars over an entire year’s contract doesn’t come out to very much in a paycheck, but psychologically, it makes a big difference,” said Lois Orth-Lopes, the teachers’ chief negotiator. “Different people will have a different percentage of raises, but that’s the way the system works.”

Frank Harwood, the district’s chief negotiator and chief operations officer, said the board wasn’t against raises, but was concerned about future financial cuts.

“In very difficult budget times, (the teachers have) come with some very reasonable salary proposals,” Harwood said. “We settled about right in the middle.”

Leave was also a topic of contention, specifically how many days in a row teachers would be able to take for business or emergency reasons.

The teachers accepted five days of leave with provisions that would allow them to have more than three days in a row if their written request is approved by the certified human resources director.

“It is going to be a tremendous morale booster,” Orth-Lopes said. “It’s being respected to make a good decision. I think the board’s move on that is something that we consider significant and we’re very pleased with it.”

Harwood also noted that it is harder for most teachers to be out of the classroom for a long period of time.

“If someone needs to be gone for reasons for up to five days, that’s permissible,” Harwood said. “Most of the teachers don’t want to be out of the classroom.”

Both teams said the two sides worked together well to come to terms on a final agreement.

“We’ve been making a sincere effort to work together and try to problem solve,” Orth-Lopes said. “I think we made some significant gains.”

The district’s team agreed.

“We really did work towards what both sides can really do to come up with the best agreement that we can,” Harwood said.

The contract must be ratified by the Lawrence Education Association and the school board.


Paul R Getto 8 years, 8 months ago

A difficult year to negotiate,but it is good so see they reached a settlement.

volunteer 8 years, 8 months ago

Terrific news! Congratulations to both negotiation teams. The taxpayers can think their interests were taken care of, and so can the teachers.

pickaname 8 years, 8 months ago

Its not hard to see that the budget cuts were put out for public knowledge, and a couple of people lost their jobs. Last year coaches were told to cut their support staff for this year . On the 497 website they are rehiring these positions. Budget cuts were a farse for the public to support this years raises.

OutlawJHawk 8 years, 8 months ago

Now since USD 497 administration priority #27, a contract for the teachers, is resolved, I hope the administration can now move on to more important priorities on the list, like "stabilizing the soil" at the LHS soccer fields.

Seriously, I am elated for the teachers and pleased the administration acted in good faith. Congrats to both sides.

Amy Heeter 8 years, 8 months ago

I don't see what is so good about this contract. The wage increase is less than $4 per week. Is there any wonder why good teachers leave?

ssakcaj 8 years, 8 months ago

With the current economic situation, if they aren't happy with their raise then they should just shut the heck up and leave. And don't give me that good teacher business...

pickaname 8 years, 8 months ago

I do agree USD497 lose some of the best teachers to a 30 mile radius that has a much higher pay scale. All that means is that while Lawrence student scores go down Olathe, Shawnee Mission, and Desoto student scores go up. I agree that our teachers need more money to be compareable to others, but with budget cuts in the recent past, and economic situation, this was done in bad taste. I agree, you know what the pay is when you fill out the application, if you are worth more, go elsewhere. Schools will be here with or without the recent graduated K.U. students to teach them.

Shardwurm 8 years, 8 months ago

We could hire the teachers being churned out by the Higher Education Industry in Kansas as replacements if they don't like it.

And if you tell me the new teachers graduating aren't as good as the ones we have then who's fault is that?

Their teachers.

conservative 8 years, 8 months ago

Glad they took care of the teachers. Now lets see them do some stuff for the parents. End the stupid early dismissal on wednesdays and coordinate the days off across all levels of school. This is the most unfriendly district around for working families.

svenway_park 8 years, 8 months ago

Welcome back to the forum Cool/spiderman/jaguar/rusty2/ariadne/bronze/dried oregano and several others.

Now as Guy.

Maybe Kealing won't wait so long to kick you off this time, since you are a habitual violator of the Terms of Service.

Hasn't Marion found you a new attorney to re-open your frivolous lawsuit against the citizens of Lawrence? Oh, I guess not.

watchdog2 8 years, 8 months ago

Good deal for the district to get the contract with the teachers taken care of, now how about the support staff? Why does this district underpay the people who are doing the work along with the teachers and keeping these buildings and students moving forward? The paras, janitors, food service, etc are not paid enough for the work they do, many doing the same as the teachers. What is the district going to do for them and their pay??

pickaname 8 years, 8 months ago

watchdog, if you are one of those support staff, you get the same raise as they do. If you have been in the district for any length of time, you should remember getting an extra "small" check 2 years ago, that was the percent of the negotiated raise back dating to the day negotiations started. Enjoy and spend it wisely, never know when another "budget cut" will "raise" its evil head! Pun intended.

Sulla 8 years, 8 months ago

Goes to show..some people here are more concerned about soccer fields than they are anything else about our local public education. This is the ONE thing that does need to be privitized 100%:athletics(yes that includes KU basketball). If you parents want Johnny and Janey to kick around a ball, you do that on your time with your money;form your own clubs.Sorry, if this is "too European" for some of you Midwestern Americans to fathom, but thats how athletics are in "socialist" Europa, and their kids aren't as dumb as ours.

OutlawJHawk 8 years, 8 months ago

Sulla--my comment about soccer fields was facetious. I had previously blogged about the sanity related to the district finding money to "stabilze soil on a soccer field" but not being able to find money to bring closure to the contract for teachers.

matthewjherbert 8 years, 8 months ago

those who contend that 'those who can do, those who can't teach' are actually serving to promote the higher pay cause without even realizing it. As a teacher of 4 years in a public school I can attest to the fact that there are certainly 'bad' teachers in our schools who often overshadow all of the good ones. Now consider, why could this be? As a believer in our economic system, the answer is simple: supply and demand. If we pay our teachers more, we can make the supply of teachers greater without changing the demand and accordingly, with a greater supply to choose from, school districts across America can start hiring only the best. As the Clinton/Gore camp used to say, "it's the economy, stupid!"

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