Archive for Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Lawrence teachers, district at stalemate in salary negotiations

July 11, 2012


Lawrence’s school district and its teachers union negotiated for about two and a half hours with a mediator before coming to an impasse Wednesday as neither side flinched on their salary proposals for the 2012-13 school year.

Teachers and district officials prepare to begin salary negotiations Wednesday with the assistance of a mediator.

Teachers and district officials prepare to begin salary negotiations Wednesday with the assistance of a mediator.

The district and its teachers remained $500 apart on their proposed salary increases. Teachers are paid based on a pay schedule that provides more money both for teachers with more education and for teachers with more years of service, up to a maximum amount.

The district’s negotiating team stuck to its offer to increase each level on the schedule by $1,000, and the union stayed behind its offer that would have increased each level by $1,500.

Kyle Hayden, assistant superintendent for business and operations, said the district received $1.4 million in new money from the state and committed all that money to its current offer for teacher raises, while also contributing $1 million to hire additional staff.

“They feel like they’ve given all they can give,” Hayden said.

David Reber, a Free State High School science teacher, is the lead negotiator for the teachers. He said Lawrence’s teacher salaries lagged behind other districts and pointed out that a one-time payment of $1,000 made to teachers last year would be going away this year.

“Their last offer would essentially be that nobody takes a pay cut,” Reber said.

The teachers and the district will now begin a fact-finding process that could last well into the school year, though the two sides could still reach an agreement at any time.

An independent fact-finder would conduct a hearing and issue a nonbinding recommendation, and then the parties would reopen negotiations. If the school year begins without an agreement, teachers would work under the previous year’s salaries.


David Holroyd 5 years, 1 month ago

Mr Reiber. . Those who pay you are lagging behind. The parents of children are lagging behind. What is It you do not understand. Not everyone makes what the teachers make and the benefits they get. Get real and quit begging. Be glad you have a job. But you and many of the teachers and admin staff. Have come to believe they are special and exempt from giving up a raise and unwilling to suffer a bit. some examples you as educators are setting!

KSManimal 5 years, 1 month ago

It is you who don't understand, oneeye. Of course the taxpayers (a group, btw, that includes teachers) are lagging behind. However, this issue does not affect how much tax anyone will pay.

USD 497 has already maxed its local option budget, and the remaining taxes which fund public schools are levied by the state and, likewise, have already been determined.

The disagreement here is not about how much tax to collect. Rather, it is about what to spend that money on. The teachers want that money spent to recruit and retain the best possible teaching force - a.k.a., competitive salary. The district wants to stash that money away (to the tune of about $20 million or more) and sit on it.

As a taxpayer, I'd like my education dollars to be spent educating kids. If you'd rather the school district behave like a bank; then you've elected the right BOE, because that's what they're doing.

chootspa 5 years, 1 month ago

I think the BOE is justifiably worried that their budget will be severely trimmed in 2014 and they'll have to cut pay or lay everyone off, but the teachers here have a really good point that they're underpaid compared to surrounding districts.

bballwizard 5 years, 1 month ago

Hey Oneeye Its called negotiating. Mr Reiber is doing his job. The salaries in the Lawrence School District are already lagging behind other districts.

ockhamsrazor 5 years, 1 month ago

Lawrence taxpayers contribute their tax dollars to educate children. Instead, the district socks money away in accounts and underpays teachers. The result is we are losing talented people to surrounding communities and unable to recruit new talent. A teacher I know got a $6,000 raise simply by moving to Shawnee Heights. This has been the situation for years and it's getting worse. Look at the school district budget you will see what the district values. The money is there. It's just not going to the classroom.

johnwoods 5 years, 1 month ago

So by your calculations, annually teachers work 33% fewer hours than a person working 40 hours per week. So they make the equivalent of $57,000 annually, not including benefits. Add your benefit figure of $11,400 and the total would be $68,000. That doesn't seem that out of whack. And KRichards said the figures doesn't factor in time spent planning, grading, setting up classroom, etc. But the students don't stay at school until 5pm, so how doesn't it figure in some of that prep time?

Geez, I'm not against teachers being paid well, but if they get any increase over 2.5%, it is way too much in this economy.

chootspa 5 years, 1 month ago

He was counting contractual hours of time required in the school building, not prep work and after hour grading, which anyone close to a good teacher would tell you eats up a lot more than the contract hours. In Finland they actually work fewer instructional hours but have even higher relative salary. Guess who gets higher test scores?

Jeff Plinsky 5 years, 1 month ago

To add to ksrichard's reply, teachers in Lawrence are on contract for 186 days, which changes the math a bit. Makes it $0.91 per kid/per hour. My classes are closer to 25, so I make about $1.09 per kid/per hour.

Liberty275 5 years, 1 month ago

Stop negotiating now. Give the teachers a contract and 2 weeks to sign it. After all the teachers that want to keep their jobs reply, place ads in neighboring cities and right-to-work states and find replacements for those that prefer to not work for the rate offered by the district.

Why is the school district even bothering to talk to the union? We shouldn't give them the time of day.

bballwizard 5 years, 1 month ago

Great idea Liberty275. Are you from Cuba or China?

Liberty275 5 years, 1 month ago

I'm from wherever a person has the dignity and intelligence to negotiate their own salary. I'm also from the places where "I pay your salary, and I won't speak with anyone representing a union".

For the record, I'm also from the place where they are philosophically repulsed by unions because they devalue individualism.

As for Cuba or China, much closer to Cuba. I've been about 60 miles from there on vacation. I never got anywhere close to China, but I did spend a day in an evaluation just a few miles from what was East Germany.

Where are you from?

Matthew Herbert 5 years, 1 month ago

Want to see what happens when, for a prolonged period of time you don't competitively hire teachers? Go visit USD 501, Topeka, Kansas. David Reber is correct - this is a matter of using already existing capital (no new taxes) to create competitive hiring practices. Having been involved with the Topeka school system previously, I've LITERALLY seen instances where a teaching position was filled with the ONE PERSON who applied. Believe me, you do NOT want that for your children.

Evan Ridenour 5 years, 1 month ago

There are hundreds (if not thousands) of new graduates trying to find teaching jobs in Eastern Kansas. I am pretty sure there are significantly more than one application per job...

KSManimal 5 years, 1 month ago

The trouble isn't a lack of enough new education graduates - never has been. The trouble is keeping teachers in the profession once they're there. Half of all new teachers leave the profession entirely within five years. That is why the number of job openings often equals or exceeds the number of applicants. Here's a good synopsis:

Liberty275 5 years, 1 month ago

"Half of all new teachers leave the profession entirely within five years."

They must have found something they like better.

From your article:

"How much unpleasantness a person will tolerate depends on the trade-off:"

Not for everyone. I enjoy my profession and would only change if I found one I was good at and that I liked better. And I'd still continue my present profession.

It must be a horrid life working simply for money.

chootspa 5 years, 1 month ago

See, the funny thing is that you can get a higher paying job in a different profession with a college degree - any college degree for many jobs. My job, for instance, wanted a college degree, but it didn't have to be in anything specific. It's not like there's this influx of new teachers that have no optons other than teaching.

Topple 5 years, 1 month ago

Let's "reapportion" some of this money we are flushing down the toilet on the library, library parking garage, empT, proposed police station w/ 40+ extra police officers, proposed overnight on-call bus pickups, train station consultants, proposed train station, etc, etc....

KSManimal 5 years, 1 month ago

That isn't possible under current state laws regarding public school finance.

Matthew Herbert 5 years, 1 month ago

no "reapportion" plan is necessary. Before anyone is allowed to comment further on this article, I need you to repeat after me: "The money for this pay increase already exists and is already in the hands of USD 497". After repeating and comprehending that statement the following posts don't apply:

  2. "Where's that money going to come from?"
  3. "Just what we need, more money taken from taxpayers"
  4. "Lets take money away from the library/cops/homeless shelter/T/crazy lady downtown/Bob Schumm's terrible bbq restaurant/etc.. and give it to teachers"

oh, and please before insulting/complimenting David REBER, take a minute to make sure you read enough of the article to actually know how to spell his name. (one eye wilbur, bballwizard).

Topple 5 years, 1 month ago

His restaurant is pretty subpar, but so is the rest of the BBQ in Lawrence. Gotta go 45 minutes east to find some respectable BBQ.

Biggs served me a fried cockroach in my fries the last time I was there, which was pretty disturbing. Still the best BBQ in Larrytown...which says something I suppose.

Liberty275 5 years, 1 month ago

Cool. As long as each teacher negotiates their own salary, we will pay them the going rate as their degree and experience dictates.

Taxes, shmaxes. Take what you need but I don't want to see one dime of money taken from me negotiated for by any union (I know it happens, I just don't want to see the vulgarity). I defend the right of unions to exist, to buy advertisements to forward political agendas (not public unions though, as it is a severe conflict of interest), they can have picnics, love ins, campouts, whatever. OK. But I won't buy union products when possible because I don't want to pay people to give up their intellectual freedom and I'm violating my personal morals by helping a person give up part of their individualism.

It's disgusting that a person with the intellect to teach (and that is obvious by their degree... usually) would consider surrendering even more control of their lives given how much the government already takes by force. I want teachers that practice and teach self-reliance, not dependence on others.

luvmyjhawktattoo 5 years, 1 month ago

What always ceases to amaze me is how the teachers are always saying they are underpaid. They work 10 months out of the year and are earning what it takes most people to make in 12 months. If they're lagging behind the salaries of other districts, move to another district. And also, without support staff such as paras, aides, custodians, food service workers, bookkeepers, secretaries... teachers couldn't fulfill their job obligations. Why is it always about teachers getting/deserving more money? What about the support staff?

Elaine Elliott 5 years, 1 month ago

I thought part of the negotiations were for support staff. Either they got a much deserved raise last year or are in negotiations for it this year.

luvmyjhawktattoo 5 years, 1 month ago

To my knowledge, classified staff members do not have a union in Lawrence. Therefore, they cannot negotiate terms.

chootspa 5 years, 1 month ago

Obviously it's the best job evah. Why don't you apply?

John Kyle 5 years, 1 month ago

Duh, maybe it's because this is an article on teacher's salaries and not city worker salaries.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 1 month ago

If the teachers want to bolt to another district just for money, then we don't need that teacher anyway.

Everytime I lost a job, I got a better one. Let them go and take their union with them. When they signed on the line they knew exactly what they were doing, now that they have the job, they want to complain about it. Imagine how much better the education of our children would be if they spent as much time teaching as they do bitching about their compensation package.

Fire them all in the fall.

Topple 5 years, 1 month ago

Heaven forbid Teachers' compensation increase at a rate even remotely close to the inflation rate...

I know I want the lowest bidder teaching my children!

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 1 month ago

Yea...many, not in the public sector, don't have jobs or have not gotten a raise in 5 years, let alone get the summers off. Many in the private sector work 70 hour weeks for 40 hours pay.

They asked to be teachers, they get what is offered. If they don't like it then they can change career fields.

JayhawksandHerd 5 years, 1 month ago

Considering that estimates of attrition remain fairly high even in a down economy, I suspect many teachers are doing just that.

Matthew Herbert 5 years, 1 month ago

"fire them all in the fall". That's brilliant planning for the future; which city commissioner are you?

TisSoSweet 5 years, 1 month ago

I'm pretty sure I can summarize any comments that you will see on an article about teacher salary negotiations.

  1. But the economy sucks, we can't afford this!
  2. That's not how it works, check out my cool logic.
  3. But teachers are lazy and they suck.
  4. Nuh-uh, teachers work really hard!
  5. Hey, what about the support staff?
  6. The union is legally not allowed to negotiate for support staff.
  7. Teachers suck. They should be fired, we don't have money for them.
  8. You're a stupid-head.
  9. You're a stupid head!
  10. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Evan Ridenour 5 years, 1 month ago

Does the union not understand the concept of a one-time payment?

No wonder our children are receiving such shoddy educations from these people.

paulveer 5 years, 1 month ago

The best education also involves parental and family involvement. If your children are receiving a shoddy education, the first place to look is in a mirror. For what education my family gets, I am very grateful for the many dedicated and hard-working teachers, who struggle on in the face of this kind of treatment.

Jeff Plinsky 5 years, 1 month ago

Um...the union negotiated and agreed to the one time payment last year. There is enough money in next year's budget, and apparently in the out years, that teachers are asking for the same money to be made permanent.

If your boss offered you $1000 bonus instead of a $1000 raise, would you see a difference? Wouldn't you rather have the raise if the money is there to fund it? Would you have the nerve to ask for it, assuming you had worked hard, done your job, and met and exceeded the standards of practice set forth by whomever oversees/supervises your job/field? So why does the public insist on vilifying teachers for doing precisely this?

Evan Ridenour 5 years, 1 month ago

Because last year it was EXPLICITLY stated that it would be a one time payment. That point was frequently reiterated during that period of time.

It frustrates me, as a taxpayer, to see the union negotiating off a position that clearly has no basis in reality.

The union needs to awaken to the fact that the taxpayers (the people who pay their salaries) have generally had nothing but wage stagnation for the last half-decade. The union needs to realize that their methods of negotiation rub-off on the public as unrealistic and greedy.

Enlightenment 5 years, 1 month ago

How about a user system. Have the parents with children pay a supplementary fee.

Jeff Barclay 5 years, 1 month ago

"I think there are currently over 30 employees this city making over $100,000 not including benefits. 22 of these are police or fire department employees." Seriously? Wow. They are the smart ones- they should be teaching our kids.

It's not a popular subject with teacher's unions, but in Florida teacher's salaries have jumped because they are measuring student outcomes and rewarding successful teachers with incentive based pay scales.

luvmyjhawktattoo 5 years, 1 month ago

I don't necessarily agree with rewarding successful teachers because sometimes, no matter how good the teacher, a student doesn't have the learning capacity or they don't care to learn. I do, however, think that raises should not be the same across the board. You may have a teacher that has been there for years that is just putting in time until retirement...they are just getting by on what they have to do (we know they exist), and then you have those that strive everyday to teach kids in a fun, interesting way. Should the lazy ones get the same pay increase as the one who goes the extra mile? Absolutely not. Longevity is rewarded in schools. It doesn't necessarily mean that they're the best teachers.

chootspa 5 years, 1 month ago

The problem is that there isn't a reliable, objective system to evaluate teachers for merit pay.

tbaker 5 years, 1 month ago

City employees making over $100K? Wow...I had no idea.

You get what you pay for. Rewarding the good one's is a great idea. Giving parents vouchers and letting them decide where their child goes to school is another great idea.

chootspa 5 years, 1 month ago

Yes. Let's reward schools for marketing to parents. That's what you're incentivizing with a voucher system, not quality education.

PS - parents already decide where their children go to school. I thought you tea types weren't in favor of wealth redistribution systems.

Soapbox 5 years, 1 month ago

Please NO pay increases at Deerfield, they pass the buck, shuffle kids from grade to grade they shouldn't, make false promises, are dishonest and in general are leaderless. Not all teachers are doing this poorly, but enough that they should be fired. These individuals’ performances in private industry would get them not only fired but pushed out of the profession. We are their bosses, yet they see parents as interfering with the lifetime job they consider themselves to have.

Please NO pay increases at @#@!!@, they pass the buck, shuffle kids from grade to grade they shouldn't, make false promises, are dishonest and in general are leaderless. Not all teachers are doing this poorly, but enough that they should be fired. These individuals’ performances in private industry would get them not only fired but pushed out of the profession. We are their bosses, yet they see parents as interfering with the lifetime job they consider themselves to have.

Please NO pay increases at @#@!!@, they pass the buck, shuffle kids from grade to grade they shouldn't, make false promises, are dishonest and in general are leaderless. Not all teachers are doing this poorly, but enough that they should be fired. These individuals’ performances in private industry would get them not only fired but pushed out of the profession. We are their bosses, yet they see parents as interfering with the lifetime job they consider themselves to have. by Soapbox

KSManimal 5 years, 1 month ago

Actually, you aren't their bosses; the building principal's are their bosses.

Try your "I pay the taxes that fund your salary, therefore I'm your boss" logic next time you get stopped by the police. Let us know how it works for you.

Soapbox 5 years, 1 month ago

Actually very funny considering my job. I really am one of the bosses.

tbaker 5 years, 1 month ago

Everytime this story makes its way onto the pages of the LJW, I ask the same simple question that every other working person in the world has to answer when they ask for a raise:

What have the teachers done to deserve one?

Have they brought any statistics to the negotiating table that demonstrate they have increased the graduation rate? Improved standardized test scores? Anything?

The only justification I have read in the many stories on this topic is their salaries "lag behind" those of other teachers. Imagine going into your boss asking for a raise on the soul basis there are other people in your field making more money. What do you imagine him or her would say to that?

chootspa 5 years, 1 month ago

1) Worked at their job for less pay than the same workers at the same education level.

2) Yes. There would be a 0 percent graduation rate without them. I'd say they raised it quite a bit.

3) My boss said, "Here's your raise." - well, to be more specific, my employer offered us all a raise upon finding out that the prevailing wage was higher with other employers, and I didn't have to ask as an individual. Then again, these folks aren't asking as individuals either. It's called collective bargaining for a reason.

nascar 5 years, 1 month ago

tbaker Head over to the USD 497 website and take a look. You might want to look at the graphs that represent the increase in student assessment scores over the past five years among other bits of information. Perhaps the teachers don't post this information because it is common knowledge. It's not that teachers and support staff are not doing good work!

tbaker 5 years, 1 month ago

Then how come the multiple stories we read make no mention of this? One must "merit" a raise, so demonstrating said merit should be the headline and the core of their aurgument.

Matthew Herbert 5 years, 1 month ago

I always thought kids were bratty and hard to deal with. Then I met the parents.

John Kyle 5 years, 1 month ago

You 'are' the "BEST" example here of 'Someone' who didn't get a 'good' education....

(although I "put" it on you, not 'YOUR' teachers.]

Dog 5 years, 1 month ago

Teachers work hard and for the most part care deeply about all of the students that they work with. As in any profession there are a wide variety of abilities and those who supervise teachers diligently work to provide professional development that supports the growth of educators. Lawrence is lucky because we have a school system that is better than most. It isn't the best, but if you listen carefully to information that is coming from the ESDC you can hear that they are focused on improving our school system for all. As a community it is time for us to support our teachers, classified staff and district administrators. Give them a raise!

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