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Archive for Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Teachers, district to meet with mediator about size of raises

June 13, 2012

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The Lawrence school district and its teachers union will meet with a mediator in July after failing to agree on the size of raises for teachers Wednesday.

Both sides moved closer on the salary issue throughout the nearly five-hour negotiating session and came to agreement on the other parts of the contract. At the end of the evening, however, they were still $500 apart on the size of raises for teachers.

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.

Both the district and the union offered plans that would allow teachers to move to new levels on the pay schedule. The district’s offer was to increase each level on the schedule by $1,000, and the union countered with an offer to increase each level by $1,500.

Kyle Hayden, the district’s chief operations officer, said the district’s salary offer would put an additional $1.42 million into the salary pool, about 3.5 percent higher than the previous year.

“I think we’ve given what we have to give,” said Bob Byers, a school board member.

The district and the teachers union agreed on Wednesday on a range of other issues. They agreed to keeping the existing contract language on issues like plan time and the duty day, and agreed to implement a new method of evaluating teachers.

But a sticking point in the negotiations involved a one-time $1,000 payment given to teachers last year.

Byers reiterated his belief that one-time payments were not meant to carry over into the next year’s salary calculations.

David Reber, the union’s lead negotiator and a science teacher at Free State High School, said that half of the teachers in the district had already reached the maximum amounts on the pay schedule for years of service. For those people, he said, their salaries would be the same as they were last year.

“I think people are going to look at that and say, ‘I’m not getting any more,’” Reber said. “We’re going to have half the people upset.”

Hayden said that in the end the union’s last offer was still 50 percent higher than the district’s last offer.

“It’s still a significant chunk of money,” Hayden said. “And it’s well beyond what I have the authority to give.”

After the meeting, Reber said that year after year other districts in the state get better raises than in Lawrence.

“Lawrence isn’t unique in their budget woes compared to everywhere else,” he said.

Comments

Eride 2 years, 2 months ago

The majority of Lawrence residents have not received a raise in several YEARS. I agree that education is necessary and valuable. However, there is a simple reality that teachers are paid from public funds, and the citizens who provide said funds have been suffering from wage stagnation. The money is not there. Any raise is laughable, teachers demanding raises of 4-6% is asinine.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

The rich say we're broke, so Eride says that teachers must pay.

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Truth 2 years, 2 months ago

The state currently has a $450 m surplus. That's the truth.

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Mike Edson 2 years, 2 months ago

Mr. Reber, maybe you should move to one of those other school districts where the grass is so much greener on the other side. Not everyone agrees with your negotiating tactics. Always going for broke will just cause a stalemate.

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Truth 2 years, 2 months ago

There is no stalemate at this time. Both the teachers and the Board have moved considerably from their original positions. Now, a mediator will attempt to bridge the salary gap between the two sides. The LEA members greatly appreciate the work that Mr. Reeber does for us. As do we appreciate the thankless job the Board members perform in serving our community.

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Scott Morgan 2 years, 2 months ago

A relative of mine who works for the district tells me LPS has lagged behind other districts, regarding pay. Many near here, and none paying less than Lawrence.

So, what seems to be rather large raises for instructors is actually in fact the district making up for the years they lagged behind. " district making up for the years they lagged behind"

Folks, this is not the bean factory where you can hire another line worker. She told me when we lose a teacher, we often lose the best. The best meaning committee members, academic leaders, mentors, years of experience.

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Truth 2 years, 2 months ago

The amount of money the district is receiving has been set by state legislators, the federal government, and the local school board. The teachers and district are not "looting" the public. There is a disagreement on how the fixed amount of money should be spent. Should Lawrence teachers receive as much compensation as Johnson County teachers? Should money be spent on teachers' salaries or kept in savings? That's where the disagreement lies.

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jonas_opines 2 years, 2 months ago

You're wasting your time. Any public service or taxes taken is looting by his viewpoint.

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Paul Wilson 2 years, 2 months ago

We can't relocate schools to China. Until unions quit with unreasonable demands...jobs will go to others. Think about that next time you see a road worker turning a stop/slow sign and know they're getting paid $20/hr. Teacher's pay fairly reflects the hours they actually work in a year. Do the math.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

"Until unions quit with unreasonable demands"

Which unreasonable demands are those? Please be specific (and saying teachers and their unions are bad because they are teachers who have a union just doesn't cut it.)

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

Why stop there? If we just reduce the requirements to becoming a teacher to having completed the 9th grade, think how far salaries could be reduced!!!

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

Interesting you should specifically mention 9th grade competency. Oh, about a decade ago, while in California, the state proposed giving teachers a raise in exchange for teachers passing a test. The test was at the 9th. grade level in the core subject that the teacher taught. The union fought that proposal. Why would they do such a thing, after all, they get a raise for what must be a very easy task, just pass the test. Well, when test results came back, it became clear why the union fought so hard against the tests. Many of their members, teachers all, failed the competency test. I've long advocated substantial pay increases for teachers. However, I also would expect a level of professionalism commensurate with that pay. With teachers, as with almost all professions, you get what you pay for.

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

I'm going on memory for a story a decade old. Believe it if you choose. Or not. I was there.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

I'm OK with taking measures that ensure the competency of teachers and other school personnel. But it needs to be done in a way that doesn't allow these metrics to be used arbitrarily or punitively (for reasons having nothing to do with competency) or to carry out an ideologically based assault on public education.

The fact is, most of our schools do a reasonably good job of educating the general populous. Not a perfect job, but the harshest critics of public education are motivated wholly by ideology, not a true desire to see improved educational outcomes, and that's likely what the union was fighting in the California referendum.

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

Expecting teachers to understand the material they teach, at a 9th. grade level seems perfectly reasonable to me. That many failed is troubling. And that many of those who failed were teaching in larger cities, teaching minority students, is troubling. And many of those teachers who failed were minorities themselves is troubling.
The poor, who you defend so often are being cheated. You should be up in arms. And I'm cynical enough to think that the unions could give a flip about the children. The care about those for whom they advocate, the teachers. I say fire all those underperforming teachers. Hire a bunch more, each with a minimum of a graduate degree. Double their pay and extend the school year. And raise taxes on everyone to pay for it.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

And how many of these teachers who failed the tests were people who ended up teaching one subject instead of whatever their major was simply because there was no one else to take the class.

I agree that underperforming teachers shouldn't be allowed to remain in the classroom. But rather than just firing them, wouldn't it be reasonable to first understand why they are underperforming? If the problems don't lie primarily with the teacher, for whatever reason, merely replacing them with someone who is guaranteed to also underperform won't do a whit of good, will it.

Complex problems can never be cured with simplistic solutions, and making teachers the scapegoats for all that ails public schools is about as simplistic as it gets.

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

I don't know how many, if any of the teachers were teaching subjects that should have been taught by others.
I do recall speaking with a teacher in a Catholic school. She said she accepted less pay than her public school counterpart, even though she was more qualified. She said she accepted that because she didn't have to deal with all the "stuff" that public schools have to deal with.
We can discuss for days what all that "stuff" is and how it can be addressed by society. But it's my opinion that most of that "stuff" are things schools are not equipped to deal with. Things like a dysfunctional home, things like parents who are not only not helpful, but they bring an adversarial relationship to the teacher/parent dynamic. Be clear, these problem are 99% not the making of teachers or schools, in my opinion. They are caused by parents. Therefore, teachers and schools have little chance of solving those problems. What the schools can do is what the schools should do. Schools can put qualified teachers in each classroom. However, that adversarial relationship I spoke of is not limited to teacher/parent. It includes union/management. And if the unions are protecting unqualified teachers, then they are part of the problem. And in the case I mentioned, that is exactly what happened.

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Paul Wilson 2 years, 2 months ago

How far? Be specific. We don't understand your point unless you are perfectly specific.

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Cant_have_it_both_ways 2 years, 2 months ago

How about this, let them work 12 months a year. Get rid of the entrenchment and institute a performance based system.

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Truth 2 years, 2 months ago

The majority of teachers might agree to a twelve month contract as long as their daily wage is increased accordingly. If a new teacher in Lawrence were to work eight more weeks, her salary would increase approximately $7,500, bringing her salary up to $42,000. There would have to be additional funds for this kind of work and salary increase.

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JackMcKee 2 years, 2 months ago

I haven't made a "raise" in 5 years. Most people I know are happy to have joarbs. Quit whining teachers. You "work"* 8 months out of the year.

*work meaning no measurable outcome expected

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JackMcKee 2 years, 2 months ago

oh and pay them whatever they want.

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Jeff Kilgore 2 years, 2 months ago

I take from your writing, that you're a teacher!

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JackMcKee 2 years, 2 months ago

have not today but been one in previous

yes

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JackMcKee 2 years, 2 months ago

you don't wrote so good maybe yous needs to get back to lernin and not do much other stuffs and such here is now right

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purplesage 2 years, 2 months ago

Every year, we go though this, our dedicated professionals acting like blue-collar union labor. Come on! They work 10 months a year. So, they want $150 a month. Their health insurance, in most cases, is unbelievablly good coverage for this day and age, and they have KPERS (or did) with an 85 and out retirement provision. Teachers demand raises, take up the bulk of the money the schools have, and though they give lip service to the support staff, are quite content to let those folks go year in and year out with little or no increase in pay, certainly not enough to meet COLA standards.

All of this means that a teacher with a few years experience can make a pretty decent living these days and have a good retirement - or as some do - 2 retirements, just by changing districts.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

Translation-- I dislike teachers, so I'll completely distort the realities of their existence in the hopes that it'll lead to their modest pay and benefits packages being put on the same downward spiral that Corporate America intends for everyone else.

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JackMcKee 2 years, 2 months ago

Protip: if you are a teacher living in Kansas. move.

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tbaker 2 years, 2 months ago

Why don't the teachers post to this blog and list all of their accomplishments and demonstrate why they deserve a raise?

For example, maybe they could post a simple briefing that demonstrates:

How they have raised test scores higher than numerous foriegn countries. How the public schools are doing compared to the private schools. How decades of increases in per-pupil education spending have finally paid-off. How they have reduced the drop out rate. How they have increased the number of 9th graders who eventually graduate.

If they have done any of these things, they should be shouting them from the roof tops. Why can't they at least attempt to justify (merit) the raise they want like every other working person does?

I'm curious - if they do get a raise, does a portion of it have to go to the union in increased dues? Hummmm.....

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KSManimal 2 years, 2 months ago

"How they have raised test scores higher than numerous foriegn countries."

I assume you refer to PISA scores? The top scoring countries (like Finland) have child poverty rates in the low single-digits. In the USA, it's more like 25%. If you look at US schools with poverty rates below 10%, those schools beat every other nation on PISA.

"How the public schools are doing compared to the private schools."

A totally invalid comparison. Private schools are selective (deliberately or not, because the mere desire to attend one makes the student body a non-random sample); and private schools can and do toss out kids who aren't performing. Public schools must take every kid who walks in the door; and they are also held accountable for the performance of chronic truants who never even show up.

"How decades of increases in per-pupil education spending have finally paid-off."

Today's schools have air conditioning, central heating, up-to-code fire-safety systems, security systems, and computer systems. Less than two decades ago, that wasn't the case. None of that is free. Furthermore, while per-pupil spending has risen, it has not kept pace with inflation. Thus, in terms of purchasing-power, it hasn't gone up.

"How they have reduced the drop out rate. How they have increased the number of 9th graders who eventually graduate."

Re-phrasing the same question won't make it look like you had more questions... In the 1950's, about half of US adults had a high school diploma. Today, it's about 85%. Looks like an increase to me.... Do you not see that?

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Scott Morgan 2 years, 2 months ago

Most likely teachers do not wish to join a blog where they are berated and disrespected.

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Ladybug2 2 years, 2 months ago

I agree that the teachers have an important job but what about all of the people behind the scenes who are working just as hard. Many of them have college educations too but I don't see the teachers standing up for them. I say they should all get the same percentage of a raise!!

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SayHi 2 years, 2 months ago

By behind the scenes do you mean administrators? USD 497’s have some of the highest pay in the state. If you mean nurses & secretaries I’m pretty sure that what they get is close to the teachers’. Health insurance (which this includes) is the same.

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NotRelated 2 years, 2 months ago

By "pretty sure" do you mean you are clueless? Secretaries are often paid very little especially for what duties they perform for their schools. ESDC secretaries often make more, funny that their list of responsibilities is often much shorter, paid extra to deal with the crap Admins?

You are also pretty much clueless about school districts in general if you believe the staff is made up only a. Admins, b. Nurses, and c. Certified Teachers. You left out just about every kind of Classified Staff member, I'd fill you in, but it would be a waste of energy. Thanks for being "pretty sure" about something you obviously have no clue about!

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SayHi 2 years, 2 months ago

You’re right secretaries are underpaid and very undervalued. By “pretty sure” I meant that I haven’t done the extensive research everyone else has. Just for clarification, the administrators I was talking about are principals and up, the people with nice offices.

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KSManimal 2 years, 2 months ago

Kansas law does not allow the teachers' union to bargain compensation or any other condition of employment for other employee groups (such as paraeducators, administrators, custodial staff, etc.).

Nonetheless, whatever kind of improvements the teachers are able to get sets the bar for what the district is expected to do for other employee groups. Usually, the district provides the same percent increase for its other employees; or close to it. Not always, of course...but if the teachers weren't bargaining improved benefits; that "usually" would become more like "rarely" or "never".

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