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.