Archive for Thursday, September 1, 2011

Town Talk: UPDATE Santa Fe drug development firm moving to KU; New wage data shows we all should have been doctors; salary info Lawrence teachers already have noticed; more construction for Kasold

September 1, 2011


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News and notes from around town:

• UPDATE: Another high-tech pharmaceutical company is moving to the incubator facility on Kansas University’s West Campus. KU officials announced this morning that Gyrasol Technologies is moving from Santa Fe, N.M., into space at the Bioscience and Technology Business Center on KU’s West Campus. The company — which was founded by a KU graduate — is bringing two employees with it, and recently has hired two new employees. The company is projecting to add 12 employees over the next two years. Gyrasol specializes in helping pharmaceutical companies predict which drugs will work for cancer patients. The company is led by Susan Burgess, who received her doctorate in pharmacology from KU in 1980. She said she had long been aware of KU’s growing research status in drug development fields, but she became interested in moving her company when she learned that local leaders had built a new 21,400-square-foot incubator and laboratory facility for private businesses on West Campus. The multi-million dollar incubator facility was built using a combination of public funds from the city, the county, the university and the state’s bioscience authority. The incubator facility, which is less than 2 years old, now has 52 employees and has leased 66 percent of its space. Those numbers don’t include the recent announcement that animal health sciences firm Argenta is finalizing a lease for the facility, which is expected to include 27 jobs over the next five years.

• All right, I get it. I should have learned how to handle a scalpel instead of a pen. I should have learned how to stick my fingers in someone’s mouth instead of … I’m actually not sure where I’m going with that one. But I’ve been looking at newly released wage data from the state, and it is clear why those folks who were studying to be doctors never hung around with those folks who were studying to be journalists. We ran a brief article recently from the Associated Press that said orthodontists were the top wage earners in the state, according to the 2010 Kansas Wage Survey from the Kansas Department of Labor. So, I got to wondering what the situation was in Lawrence. The report provides some wage data for all of the state’s metropolitan areas. What I found about Lawrence is that three of the top five professions in terms of average annual wages are in the health care field. And just for fun, I show what they make in Kansas City, Topeka and statewide: They are:

  1. Physicians and Surgeons: $225,700; K.C., $182,301; Topeka, $213,850; statewide $169,940
  2. Dentists: $192,590; K.C., $146,986; Topeka, $140,360; statewide, $157,930;
  3. Chief Executives: $124,250; K.C., $161,869; Topeka, $148,110; statewide, $139,340
  4. Sales Managers: $92,540; K.C., $116,473; Topeka $70,350; statewide $102,700
  5. Pharmacists: $91,820; K.C. $103,073; Topeka, $92,230; statewide $103,270

Yeah, I know what about those of us who are squeamish around blood — don’t think CEOs and sales managers don’t enjoy a little blood letting. Here are some average annual wages for other professions of interests in Lawrence:

  1. K-12 teachers had an average wage between $39,950 to $41,990, depending on what grade level they taught. Kansas City ranged from $42,408 to $47,744. Topeka ranged from $43,080 to $47,160. Statewide ranged from $41,490 to $44,360.
  2. Retail sales managers in Lawrence averaged $34,310. K.C. $38,073; Topeka, $31,270; statewide, $34,980.
  3. Executive secretaries and administrative assistants averaged $34,930. K.C., $39,969; Topeka, $34,170; statewide $37,320.
  4. Plumbers in Lawrence average $42,900. K.C. $52,893; Topeka, $47,380; statewide, $46,440.
  5. Firefighters in Lawrence averaged $42,530. K.C., $44,320; Topeka wasn’t listed for some reason. Statewide, $36,190.
  6. Police and sheriff’s officers in Lawrence (remember that when this study says Lawrence it really means all of Douglas County) averaged $53,540. K.C. $52,759; Topeka, $36,610; statewide, $42,310.

If you still have the stomach for more numbers, the entire report can be found here.

• If none of those numbers cheered you up, maybe this will: There’s more road construction beginning in Lawrence. Work is expected for the next five weeks on Kasold Drive from Trail to Peterson. The project will include a complete repaving and also will remove the cement median and replace it with a combination of stamped concrete and vegetation. Traffic likely will be reduced to one lane in each direction for much of the project.


DRsmith 6 years, 8 months ago

Cops and teachers get paid. Not sure why they are always crying.

DRsmith 6 years, 8 months ago

Unless of course you are a cop. Look at the difference between here and Topeka. The LWC union is straight doing work.

fan4kufootball 6 years, 8 months ago

Teachers not only get paid they get 2-3 months off during the year if you count summer months and the extra days off during the school year (spring break, Christmas break, etc). Most do not get that benefit - most work all year long for the same annual wages.

somedude20 6 years, 8 months ago

Guessing you have missed the last few decades of violence at an unprecedented level in the nation's schools. You will find that most of the schools listed are in America

chootspa 6 years, 8 months ago

Feel free to go get a teaching certificate and work that plum of a job if it's so awesome.

phoggydrive 6 years, 8 months ago

I won't argue at all that on average teachers work very hard for the money they earn. I appreciate all that the good ones do to help educate our youth that is our future. However, that being said teachers pick their own profession. They know going into their career they will not get paid on average at the same level as someone in the private sector. It's no secret, it's been that way for years and nothing in the future says it will change going forward. If they want to be paid more, than they should have choose a different profession.

Beth Ann Bittlingmayer 6 years, 8 months ago

just to clear up any confusion, that was +1 to chootspa's "feel free to go get a teaching certificate and work that plum of a job if it's so awesome" - teachers get a bum deal

Donna Kirk-Swaffar 6 years, 8 months ago

They actually don't get paid for not working, their checks just get spread out over 12 months if they request it so they still have a level paycheck in the summer. And grading papers doesn't happen during the paid school day--that's when the TEACHING takes place. Teachers grade and make lesson plans and prepare materials largely on their own time (one hour of plan time isn't enough), both during the school year and on those undeserved breaks. And teachers are lucky to get a 25 minute lunch. Most of the teachers I know have at least one summer job and take extra duty during the year. What is not clear in the story is if that is take home or gross pay. Because KPERS takes a chunk out, as does health insurance and taxes. Not sure why some people think that teachers are where we should be cheaping out. We trust our kids to them for 7+ hours a day. We better hope we get more than we pay for.

ljwhirled 6 years, 8 months ago

Because no one in the private sector works after hours, takes phone calls from customers, does on call work overnight, travels for weeks at a time doing sales calls, etc, etc, etc.

I am tired of hearing how hard teachers have it.

They work hard, yes, but so does everyone else. No one else gets 3 mo/year off.

parrothead8 6 years, 8 months ago

Teachers don't get three months off either. Summer "vacation" is closer to two months, most of which is spent taking classes to keep certifications current, planning for next year's classes, and working a part-time job to supplement income.

fan4kufootball 6 years, 8 months ago

Exactly right. Most private sector jobs (careers) that earn that level of salary do not get to work from 9-5 every day, go home and forget about their jobs. Like ljwhirled said we to work extra hours (w/o extra pay), study for licenses, take phone calls from employers, customers, etc. and yet do not get the time off during the summer. Yes - most get two weeks vacation but that's it. No extended holiday breaks or snow days.

BTW - there are other professions - other than teaching - that required licenses and continuing education to renew those licenses.

livinginlawrence 6 years, 8 months ago

"fan4kufootball," you are exactly right. There is indeed hard work done in the private sector, and surely many jobs require as much if not more than does teaching in terms of credentials. However, you would be hard pressed to find a profession which requires as much and pays as little and which also can be demonstrated to be of equal importance and value to society. The argument, forwarded by "phoggydrive," that says basically that individuals going into the teaching profession should simply expect and accept that they will likely feel under-compensated misses a crucial step in logic. Especially in the case of professions that are of as much importance as teaching, the right amount of money to pay somebody is the amount of money that will attract the people who are best for the job. And while teaching is likely a profession to which certain individuals will flock irrespective of the compensation offered, paying a salary that could at least be considered satisfactory (by the teachers themselves, not non-teachers) will certainly increase the probability that our public schools will have high quality individuals working in them. He who fails to recognize the importance of quality educators is a fool.

Beth Ann Bittlingmayer 6 years, 8 months ago

Teachers get paid during the summer months because the district is happy to divide their paycheck into 12 installments instead of 9. It's still a 9 month salary.

But teachers also work more than 40 hours per week during the 9 months. So they are being paid a 9 month salary for a 45-50 hour work week, which still translates to low wages and high burnout. Most folks wouldn't last a New York minute working with kids of any age for that many hours a day. Then try coming home to other responsibilities.

Teachers in this society are tremendously undervalued and we all pay for it.

ljwhirled 6 years, 8 months ago

bethann: "Teachers in this society are tremendously undervalued and we all pay for it."

That's the thing, they aren't. Even in Kansas, an admittedly non-progressive state, teachers are earning $55,320 (at the bottom of the above scale) when their 9 mo of work is extended to a 12 mo salary scale.

That is fair. Could it be more? Yep, but personally I think that is fair.

Though education is a long term investment in society, it is also a cost center. The nature of cost centers is to grow over time. When both teachers and conservatives are unhappy with the status quo (as it is right now), I think we in the middle are probably getting a fair deal.

jafs 6 years, 8 months ago

It's been pointed out that they don't just work 9 months numerous times.

I think we're all losing, in fact. Teachers are undervalued, criticized, and attacked by those on the right, and education funding is cut, even by a governor who promised to "protect" it while campaigning. And, our schools aren't doing a good enough job of educating young people.

Sounds like a "lose-lose" situation to me.

lawrencelifer59 6 years, 8 months ago

Most people don't average 60+ hours a week like teachers do during the school year either. It is just not possible to get all the grading and lesson planning, meeting with parents and students, meeting with other teachers, etc done from 8:00 to 5:00 and the overflow must be done nights and weekends without additional pay.

ljwhirled 6 years, 8 months ago

I work 60+ hours per week. Many of my friends and co-workers do. It is called "a salary job".

I don't, however, get 3 mo a year off of work.

True - hourly workers don't work 60+ (without overtime), but Teacher's pay scale is well above most hourly workers.

Take a teacher's 41,490 and divide by 9 = $4,610/Mo. Extrapolate to a 12 Mo working year and the equivalent salary is: $55,320.

Now add great heath benefits (compared to most workers), job security, retirement benefits, accommodating working environment and being a teacher is a pretty good job.

I am tired of hearing how hard they have it. If teachers don't like the pay, quit and go work in the private sector.

Beth Ann Bittlingmayer 6 years, 8 months ago

Actually that's what a majority of our most talented young people are doing within the first 5 years of teaching - they are leaving, because the pay and benefits are better in the private sector. It's a huge problem.

gatekeeper 6 years, 8 months ago

I now work in the private sector, salaried position. I used to teach. How people teach their entire lives in beyond me. I did special ed work. I was burnt out after 5 years. In my current job, I do work more than 40 hours per week. Maybe 42-45. If you are really working 60+ hours per week, then YOU need to look into changing your profession.

Teachers don't leave the schools and their jobs when the kids start their summer vacations. I got maybe a few weeks to chill was all. That great money teachers make for working so little (as you seem to think). Yeah, take KPERS and taxes out of the pay they're listing. Then take out all the money teachers spend out of pocket because you never have the supplies you need in class and there are always kids that don't have supplies because their family can't afford them. Teachers spend a lot of money out of pocket.

I am still in touch with dozens of people I went to KU with and we all graduated together. Only 1 is still teaching.

I've never understood why people look down on teachers. They work for low pay and put up with everyone else's kids (and kids have been getting worse over the years). Then you have to deal with every parent that thinks their kid is the best and so special.

Teachers are saints that should be praised, not put down.

ljwhirled 6 years, 8 months ago

bethann: "they are leaving, because the pay and benefits are better in the private sector"

I don't buy that. I had a look around the interweb ( ) and most of the searches came back with the following reasons:

  • Constant battles with administration / red tape
  • Unreasonable work loads
  • Poor working conditions
  • Salary

Looking at the data, it looks to me like most of these are management problems.

It doesn't matter how much you pay people. If their job sucks and their boss is a jerk and they don't have the tools/materials they need to do their job right, they are going to get frustrated and leave.

Though I admit that pay appears to be one factor, it looks like the other factors outweigh this one.

Instead of throwing money into paychecks, lets look at what we can do about class size (more teachers), class schedule (more teachers), classroom supplies (seriously, this is an issue?), attracting better managers - maybe from the private sector.

As a side note: Supplies are an issue? Really? We spent $7.9 Billion on education in this state last year and teachers have to buy construction paper out of pocket? If it is going to help with retention - triple this budget. What stupid, narrow minded, short sighted bean counter can't see his/her way to buy some freaking office supplies for the kids?

My guess (on the side note) is that the process for purchasing supplies is such a pain-in-the-rear that teachers simply go around it and shell out for themselves. At DOD we have these great purchase cards, maybe the dept of education should try some?

tomatogrower 6 years, 8 months ago

I've worked in schools and the private sector. Most jobs in the private sector get time to unwind. You can usually go to the bathroom when you need to, you can take a coffee break, and you usually get at least 30 minutes for lunch, if not more. When I worked in the schools teachers didn't get coffee breaks. A bathroom trip was a major deal. And only 20 minutes for lunch. Teachers are the fastest eaters in the world. That's why I chose not to become a teacher. I like going to the bathroom when I need to. And coffee breaks are great.

gatekeeper 6 years, 8 months ago

Totally correct!!!!!!! Teachers learn great bladder control.

ljwhirled 6 years, 8 months ago

OMFG - you are telling me that the administration is losing staff because they can't work out an effective way to get teachers a lunch break, coffee break or regular bathroom breaks?

Really? This is so, so stupid. No wonder Tea Party Nut Jobs say government doesn't work.

Surely they can put a floating staff member into rotation to allow for bathroom breaks? Maybe schedule three 20 min between class breaks a day (each teacher gets two, watches kids during the third)? Build an effective lunch rotation schedule that gives teachers 1 hour?

No wonder teachers quit. Their bosses are incompetent boobs.

Scott Morgan 6 years, 8 months ago

hahhahahahaha. Oh my. A staff member to look into each room and check to see if one needs to pee. hahahahahahahhaha. OK Miss Jones, time to go, you are right behind Mr. Barkley. Pick it up a bit,

We're behind schedule, Mrs. Takieth must be doing a big one. Didn't anybody read the notice, watch your coffee intake before 10, our toilet sub is behind schedule. hahahhahahahahahah

lj, you are administration in the making. How about having BD/ED kids behave by asking them.

You have got to be kidding. Forget the lunch stuff, tell me compadre how you would leave a group of 25 first graders for 5 minutes alone. Better yet, tell me how to teach reading to 25 kids.

Chad Lawhorn 6 years, 8 months ago

I'm going off memory here, which is dangerous, but I don't believe the project includes filling in the sidewalk gap. If I remember correctly the stretch that doesn't have a sidewalk is on a fairly steep hill. I don't think the city has found a cost-effective way to build that stretch of sidewalk. If I'm wrong, I'm sure somebody at the city will correct me. Thanks, Chad

d_prowess 6 years, 8 months ago

I agree, it would be great if they added the sidewalk. But if they can't I hope they at least have some space on the median to still walk/run since I see a number of people doing that now.

Jonathan Fox 6 years, 8 months ago

I'm not positive we're talking about the same stretch but here goes.

I think I know of the steep hill on the inside of the curve Chad is talking about, but now that the outside of the Kasold/31st street curve is re-zoned within city limits (at least to my miniscule knowledge) they could put the sidewalk around the outside of the curve and connect to the sidewald that leads back to the trail near the by-pass.

Curtis Lange 6 years, 8 months ago

Whats missing even more than a sidewalk on that stretch is adequate street lighting! The stretch is pitch black at night with only one small light at each intersection, lol.

volunteer 6 years, 8 months ago

I believe the teachers have a pile of money that they negotiated to be placed in a nice early retirement program INSTEAD of the salary schedule, which skews the comparisons with Topeka and Kansas City.

And didn't a recent LJW article report that 5% of Lawrence teachers' workday time is for "collaboration?" (Flavor of the month educationese term)

A high school teacher last year told me his department just used that time for grading or planning except for the first week of school. Which is fine with me, Lord knows they NEED a time for a cup of coffee and to mark their papers so they can spend only ONE hour outside of the duty day instead of TWO grading papers and such.

But stop the fiction.

overthemoon 6 years, 8 months ago

South Korea, whose education system is beating the socks of the US, pays its teachers on a par with doctors. How we compensate our public employees speaks volumes about our eroding values as a county. (and I don't mean 'family values' or other BS that has no meaning other than separating the 'us' from the 'them')

But these numbers aren't really clarified. For the medical professions (where are the nurses?) is this personal income or business income before or after taxes and insurance and all that stuff that Doctors say are jeopardizing their country club memberships? Also, what are the averages over the past 10 years? Will we see that Kansas has experience the national income profile...incomes in the top 20% rising dramatically while the lower 80% has stagnated or decreased? How do these numbers compare with national averages and cost of living indexes?

And if those executive secretaries were to strike for a month or so, would their bosses who make 4-5 times their salary even be able to function? I'm guessing many businesses would grind to a chaotic halt without the 'secretaries' that make the place run.

calendar 6 years, 8 months ago

Teacher salaries, and to a lesser extent, firefighters and police, are under attack because those who want to cut taxes for individuals and corporations--like the Koch brothers who help finance the Tea Party and other anti-tax groups--see education as the largest cost item in the state budget. So, if you denigrate educators, you can make the argument that education spending needs to be cut. It's no accident that undercutting teachers and their rights is a national trend.

ljwhirled 6 years, 8 months ago

I don't begrudge teachers a fair salary. I think teaching is important.

I am just tired of hearing how hard teachers work compared to everyone else.

I think the salary paid to teachers is fair. Could we pay them more? Yes. But if we pay them more it should be based on student outcomes.

If your students do better according to some fair and agreed upon standard, then you get paid more. If you under-perform your peers, you get paid less and (eventually) fired.

To all you teachers out there - if you want more pay, focus on building a performance based pay scale. Then perform.

Some (many?) teachers oppose this because they know they would have to work harder, or that they are simply unable to meet a bar set by their peers.

Given control of the system, I would also implement "rank and yank".

After 2 years on the job, all teachers would be ranked according to an agreed upon metric.

The bottom 5% of the pool would be terminated and banned from teaching in the future.

This would give teachers motivation to really excel and innovate. It would also encourage the lazy, the stupid and the unskilled teachers to seek a new profession.

ljwhirled 6 years, 8 months ago

I own my own shop. I do what I want.

Today I went to work at 9....did books till lunch. Ate Jimmy Johns at my desk while reading a truly boring (and one sided) legal contract.

I picked my daughter up from school at 3:30.

Then I went back to work and worked until 7:00 PM.

So a normal, 9 1/2 to 10 hour day. I also work most weekends (both Saturday & Sunday) and from time to time work 16 to 18 hours straight.

In a normal week I work between 55 and 65 hours. Sometimes I don't get paid at all. Sux being the boss.

Tristan Moody 6 years, 8 months ago

"Some (many?) teachers oppose this because they know they would have to work harder, or that they are simply unable to meet a bar set by their peers."

I'm not a teacher, but that's a disgustingly uninformed characterization of the opposition to performance-based pay. The biggest problem is this: how do you quantify teacher performance? Standardized tests don't work -- we know this from NCLB. They stifle creativity and innovation in the classroom, they make no account for the differing abilities of the students, and schools themselves are having a hard time meeting the standards.

question4u 6 years, 8 months ago

Wow! Great Idea ljwhirled. Why don't you pitch that to corporations like Boeing. They have some smart managers. I'm sure they'll jump right on that plan. It makes so much sense.

They can start their "rank and yank" anytime. After two years on the job , all Boeing employees would be ranked according to an agreed upon metric. The bottom 5% of the pool would be terminated and banned from working in the aircraft industry ever again.

That would give those engineers motivation to really excel and innovate. it would also encourage the lazy, the stupid and unskilled engineers to seek a new profession.

Why hasn't anyone thought of this brilliant idea before? Three guesses.

ljwhirled 6 years, 8 months ago

This isn't a new idea. Jack Welch (remember him, CEO of General Electric) is a proponent of this concept.

This is the same General Electric that experienced a 28 fold increase in earnings from 1981 to 2001.

This management construct is based on the vitality curve.

It really works. I bet it would work at Boeing too (and in the military, local, state and federal government).

In any large organization, there is always dead weight. If you work in a company with more than say, 50 employees, and you look around and don't see any dead weight.....I have news for are the dead weight.

This trick (as Mr. Moody points out above) is coming up with a fair and agreed upon criteria for ranking teachers.

Dan Blomgren 6 years, 8 months ago

Our City Commissioners must be mad. They were all voting to make Lawrence a retirement community. How upset they must be that instead we have a high-tech pharmaceutical company coming our way. With any luck maybe the new employees will bring their parents to live with them.

madcow 6 years, 8 months ago

lol at people who think $39,950 to $41,990 is an acceptable amount to draw talented teachers into the classroom.

ljwhirled 6 years, 8 months ago

Yeah, because with 9% unemployment and shrinking state budgets, we need to throw more money into the salary pool to draw them in.

How about improving the working environment, hiring more skilled administrators, providing better clerical support? Maybe making it easier to get the supplies and equipment they need?

Not all problems can be solved by throwing money at them. As an example see -> Afghanistan.

Curtis Lange 6 years, 8 months ago

Thank you baby Jesus for the Kasold construction! Living off Peterson, I HATE HATE HATE taking that section of Kasold to 6th St. Can't wait!

gatekeeper 6 years, 8 months ago

You are correct about the masters degree, but the rest of your post is idiotic and wrong. If you were a teacher and listened to teachers, you'd know how stupid your comment is. Great way to drag politics into the discussion.

If teachers have to spend many hours working after the school day they aren't very organized? What???? Maybe early elementary teachers don't have to spend hours and hours grading papers at night. Try having junior high and high school classes and having 100+ papers to read and grade, planning for the next days classes, etc.... and see if the hours you work are because you're disorganized. It's called you have a ton of work to do!!!!!!

ljwhirled 6 years, 8 months ago

Stupid post. Though the Republican leadership is doing its damnedest to prove it, education is not a partisan issue.

You could make the case, however, that is is partisan by presenting it as a battle between Republicans (uneducated and under-educated religious fanatics) and Democrats (educated, competent scientific secularists)

handley 6 years, 8 months ago

You who think teachers are paid well or over paid. How many of you go home from your job or do nothing or have a second job for extra money. Teachers do a lot of extra work 3 to 4 hours 2 to 3 times a week foot ball basketball socker tennis track band and many other school related things and don't get any extra pay for.

ljwhirled 6 years, 8 months ago

I don't think they are over paid. I think they are fairly paid.

Improving education is not about throwing money into salaries. We need to make management reforms and improve the working environment.

We might also need more teachers, but that doesn't mean we need to pay each teacher more.

Donna Kirk-Swaffar 6 years, 8 months ago

Actually, I think they get extra duty pay for the sports duties.... Not much, but every little bit!

lawrencechick 6 years, 8 months ago

You have to love living in a country where professional athletes and hip hop stars make more than a teacher, firefighter, social worker, and police officer combined would make in a lifetime.

BruceWayne 6 years, 8 months ago

hey Town Talk- any word on the Auto Exchange on 23rd? All vehicles gone as well as signs.

BruceWayne 6 years, 8 months ago

hey Town Talk- any word on the Auto Exchange on 23rd? All vehicles gone as well as signs.

Rae Hudspeth 6 years, 8 months ago

Town Talk.. what's up with Auto Exchange? they've moved back to the place on S Iowa and closed down the E 23rd lot? Will they still have a service dept?

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