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Archive for Friday, June 25, 2010

Tough year

School district and teachers’ negotiators made the best of a bad budget situation this year; city, fire and police negotiators should try to do the same.

June 25, 2010

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Congratulations, to Lawrence school board and teacher negotiators for reaching a reasonable and relatively quick agreement on teacher salaries for the coming year.

Reduced state funding that forced the district to cut $4.3 million from its budget and not renew contracts for more than 30 teachers provided a somber backdrop for the negotiations. “We all realized money is very tight,” said Frank Harwood, the board’s chief negotiator.

District officials offered what they thought they could: money to cover higher health care costs but no raises. The teachers’ negotiators were able to gain approval for a limited number of raises for new teachers and teachers who had completed graduate hours. Additional personal leave days also are included in the package that still must be approved by the school board and the teachers.

It hasn’t been a happy financial year for any public school district in Kansas. State budget cuts have put severe strain on school districts and they have little choice but to make difficult decisions to balance their own budgets.

To their credit, negotiators for the Lawrence teachers understood that the school district was severely limited in how much additional money it could spend on salaries without forcing cuts in other areas or perhaps even laying off more professional staff. Their willingness to consider the district’s financial situation and take a reasonable approach to salary increases this year should buy them some good will with school board members and district administrators in future years when, hopefully, money will not be as tight.

It also might serve as an example for other negotiators, such as those currently working on contract agreements for the Lawrence police and firefighters. Taxpayers appreciate the valuable services provided by teachers and emergency personnel, but in the current economy, there are limits to how much more money can be budgeted for salaries. Everyone wishes that wasn’t the case, but it is the reality this year.

Teachers, firefighters and police officers should realize they aren’t the only employees being asked to maintain or even increase their workloads without a raise this year. School negotiators did a good job of finding a reasonable compromise this year. Hopefully, city negotiators will do the same.

Comments

lawrenceparent 3 years, 9 months ago

“We all realized money is very tight,” said Frank Harwood, the board’s chief pawn.

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Paul R Getto 3 years, 10 months ago

"The teachers need the ability to expel disruptive kids - going to school should be a privilege not a right." === xton: A good point, if we are willing to expel lots of kids and put them someplace else with a much higher cost. Generally, we can educate a kid for several years, perhaps more than it costs to put them in a 'good' prison for a year. Horace Mann brought this up once: You can spend money on schools or prisons; it's your choice. Our struggles in Afghanistan are a good example of how 'expensive' an illiterate population is.

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xtronics 3 years, 10 months ago

So why not just give the $300K per class to the teachers and let them contract their own facilities? Fire all the administrators.

When I was a boy there was a principal and 3 other administrators for 2,000 kids. Probably could get by for less with the assistance of todays computers.

The teachers need the ability to expel disruptive kids - going to school should be a privilege not a right.

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Paul R Getto 3 years, 10 months ago

Kontum1972: One more time. The lottery money was never earmarked for schools.

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noprshtr 3 years, 10 months ago

If the City can afford a million boondoggle at the old Carnegie library and to expand the current library, then the City needs to quit pleading poverty.

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Kontum1972 3 years, 10 months ago

obtw..what happened to all this lottery money that was suppose to benefit alot of infrastructure and the schools systems...hmmmmmmm?

mb taxes ate it up....

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youngjayhawk 3 years, 10 months ago

Few teachers will receive raises and most will bring home less $$ because of health care cost increases. Except for the elite administrators, everyone is taking a hit.

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commuter 3 years, 10 months ago

While a number of teachers will get raises, the rest of the district administrative (not all high paying administrators) took a pay cut. How do you think the teachers look in the eyes of the people who had to take a pay cut???

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