Archive for Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Teacher pay increase offer much lower than requested

May 30, 2012


The Lawrence school district is willing to pump up teachers’ salaries by $1.5 million, far less than what teachers had requested.

For more than three hours Wednesday evening, district representatives and teachers from the Lawrence Education Association hashed out language that would be part of next year’s teacher contract.

More than a month ago, the teachers union asked for a $3,250 pay raise. The request would have kept in place the one-time $1,000 bonus given to teachers last year and added another $2,250 to that amount.

Instead, the district offered to give a permanent increase of $750 to all teachers and to allow teachers to move higher on the pay scale based on their years of service.

For those teachers who can still move up, the increase could range between $400 to $1,700. For teachers who have reached their maximum level on the pay scale, which is about 50 percent of them, there wouldn’t be any additional increase.

Lead negotiator David Reber, a Free State High School science teacher, said the boost is an improvement from what the district had offered earlier in the night.

“It’s getting better. But I don’t think we are there yet,” he said.  

The initial offer was to give teachers $750 across the board and then a one-time payment of $250. But it wouldn’t have allowed teachers to jump to the next level on the pay scale.

Under that scenario, the teachers union negotiating team said the pay increase was actually no increase all because it would only replace the $1,000 one-time payment teachers received last year.

“It means everyone is static,” said Elizabeth Gabel, a member of the negotiation team and a teacher at Southwest Middle School.

But school board member Bob Byers reminded the teachers that the district agreed to just that one-time payment last year.

“I hesitate on issues of one-time money because I know if we do it one time, it becomes permanent. One time was one time,” he said.

Reber told the board a contract that didn’t allow employees to move up on the pay scale would make it a hard sell to teachers.

“They see it as automatic and get pretty indignant when it doesn’t happen,” Reber said.  

After that conversation, the negotiation team returned with an offer that would allow teachers to move up the pay scale but take away the $250 one-time payment all teachers would receive.

The district’s proposal also would cover insurance premiums at a slightly higher rate, costing about $181,000 a year more, and include about $43,000 more for teachers who take on additional assignments or duties.  

Negotiations will resume June 6.


Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 9 months ago

They should feel lucky just to have a job. Until education becomes performanced based, nothing will get better. We will just keep throwing money at it hoping it will help. I would bet it is like most places, those who actually do the work are fine, it is the administration that has it all screwed up.

Larrytown 5 years, 9 months ago

What do you mean....they should feel lucky just to have a job? What's your point as it pertains to this article? Everyone (including outside the teaching profession) should feel lucky to have a job.

What do you mean throwing money at it hoping it will help? It's called compensating the teachers (i.e. investing in public education). I work for a large company in KC and I've never ran across the "throwing money at it hoping it will help" as it pertains to salary increases for the employees.

bwhacker 5 years, 9 months ago

I imagine that commenter is referring to the continuing trend of spending more on students and falling further and further behind other industrialized nations, especially in math and sciences, which are fairly cut-and-dried materials. Either the teaching methods have changed (and become less effective), or other countries are doing it better. There's not much else that could be drawn from this. I know, I know, "parents just aren't involved as much". Maybe that's the case, but how much class time that used to be devoted to basic instruction in math, sciences, reading, and writing is now devoted to cultural studies or life skills instruction.

Here's the link to a comparison graphic published by the University of Southern California's School of Education that shows the extremely significant gap in spending per pupil among 12 peer nations:

You can see that the US is spending about 32% more than the next highest (UK), but ranks 10th in math scores and 9th in science. Conversely, Finland spends ~25% less than the US and ranks first in literacy, math and science. There is probably some impact due to differences in population, but it would seem that breaking it down to per-pupil spending, and the law of averages, would suggest that the numbers reflect the average student.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

Do these figures really compare apples and apples? Does it take into account that almost all of these countries have much greater social spending in other areas that likely reduce the amount that gets channeled through school budgets? Top of the list would have to be healthcare insurance, which many of these countries don't pay through their school budgets. What about bussing expenses, which are almost certainly lower in these mostly much more densely populated countries? And how do these expenditures compare as a percentage of average income (the US being one of the richest countries in the world?) Does that fact that most of these countries tend to separate students between academic and vocational tracks very early on get any consideration?

I'm sure there are lots of other pertinent questions that would need to be asked for a comparison of these raw numbers to have any meaning.

Oh, and pretty much all of these countries have very strong public school systems, and they also pay their teachers much better than the US does.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 9 months ago

I am so glad Bozo enlightens us with his wisdom every day. Seems there is not a subject he is not the resident expert on.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

So, is there a point you're trying to make, or are you just whining?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

As soon as the recently passed tax cuts have to be paid for, it'll be teachers doing a good deal of the the paying. So instead of minuscule increases like this, there'll be dramatic cuts in pay and significant layoffs. Net effect-- the best teachers will be either leaving the profession, or the state, or both.

james bush 5 years, 9 months ago

Be interesting to know the salary ranges.

KSManimal 5 years, 9 months ago

42% of those salaries, when supporting a family of four, fall below the federal criterion for free & reduced-price school lunches.

There's a great recruitment slogan: "Come work for us, and your kids will qualify for federal school lunch subsidies."

jhawkinsf 5 years, 9 months ago

Isn't it a somewhat antiquated notion to have one breadwinner in a family of two adults and two children? Isn't it far more common that the second adult is also working? And as long as broad generalizations are being made, if that second worker was making the same (or close) as the teacher, wouldn't that family then be firmly entrenched in the middle class. They might even be able to afford to send their children to a private school. All that said, I firmly believe teachers deserve more pay. But throwing in stats like 42% would be eligible for this and that are nothing but red herrings.

Jeff Kilgore 5 years, 9 months ago

Yes, it's also an antiquated notion for a teacher to earn a decent salary.

KSManimal 5 years, 9 months ago

Isn't it a somewhat antiquated notion that a family has two adults?

Matthew Herbert 5 years, 9 months ago

Be careful reading that pay range chart- some years, teachers are frozen on their placement on that scale, so a 'masters degree and 7 years experience' doesn't necessarily really equate to a masters and 7 years experience.

bwhacker 5 years, 9 months ago

It's a little too simplistic to simply argue that the legislature doesn't pay attention to education. Since the court case where they were ordered to function a certain way in order to provide equality in school funding, they have shifted the tax revenues towards less affluent districts. But since tax revenues are tied to property taxes in KS, and there are legal limitations on how much and how often property tax rates can be adjusted, the legislature's hands are not as free to make big changes as some would like. But on the other hand, the case in which school funding was challenged revolved around the question of whether localities could voluntarily add taxes to support schools. This question was defeated on grounds of inequality.

So on the one hand, people want more money put into the educational system from the state, which derives its revenue from taxes. But on the other hand, it is outside of the control of the parents / community who participate in the educational system to go beyond that mandated by state statute by volunteering to pay higher taxes, because it's not "fair" to less populous, mostly rural districts.

The question is much more complex than is often recognized in these discussions, because there are too many people who only look at salaries and class sizes when they say we need more of "x" or "y".

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

It's not complex at all. The legislature can either adhere to the constitution, and fund adequate education for all students throughout the state, or not. With these latest tax cuts, they have clearly chosen the latter.

bwhacker 5 years, 9 months ago

I think you need to do a lot more research before you can a) define what an adequate education means, and b) whether current levels of investment result in value to the society.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development performs an annual analysis of the state of education among 35 member countries, and the remaining members of the G20 who don't participate directly. You can see the highlights of the 2011 study, for example, here:;

If you are truly interested in understanding the very complex interrelations between public spending on education, classroom conditions, socio-economic factors, etc, you can find the full list of indices used here: (free preview). Warning: It's about 500 pages of statistical analyses, so if you don't enjoy reading numbers and viewing charts, you may not get much out of it.

Patricia Davis 5 years, 9 months ago

I hope mother nature in her infinite wisdom has seen fit to make FHNC incapable of reproducing. Can't imagine what it would be like to have to educate your children.

Alyosha 5 years, 9 months ago

You do not have to use quote marks around certain words, fyi. It's just silly and detracts from any meaning your post might have.

I know you can make your writing more clear and concise. But you'll have to take yourself more seriously and give yourself more respect before that happens.

Try to be like the Founding Fathers and adopt "a decent respect for the opinions of mankind" — in other words, write comments that demonstrate respect for the audience / readers — else no one will grant your thoughts any respect.

LogicMan 5 years, 9 months ago

With the tax cuts being implemented on this coming January 1st, state tax revenues will plummet immediately. The gov will be forced to impose spending cuts. It's severely unwise to increase any state-funded spending now, but if the funds must be used, creatively bank them or use them to reduce future costs. Pay down debt or interest rates, improve energy efficiency, upgrade business equipment and processes, and so on.

Give one-time bonuses if you must (instead of raises or increases in benefits), but realize that more people will be nonrenewed as a result of throwing that money away instead of using it to reduce costs.

These next few years are going to hurt, badly. Kansas will be losing many good teachers and others as they leave for greener pastures.

Alyosha 5 years, 9 months ago

The question "So there are 'bad teachers' on the payroll now?" is hardly logically warranted. Read up on logical and argumentative fallacies before posting and you'll likely help prevent yourself from posting comments that demonstrate a lack of argumentative skill.

LogicMan 5 years, 9 months ago

Well, duh, y'all. I never said anything about bad teachers. There are lots of other people being paid with State dollars that will be affected, including in the school districts.

Matthew Herbert 5 years, 9 months ago

As of 2007, when I last checked, Kansas ranked 34th in the US in average teacher pay. At the time Connecticut was first and Oklahoma last. At the time, in order for Kansas to move up to the top half (25th place) the average teacher pay would need to increase close to $5,000 per year. As for teachers leaving, since teacher licenses are issued by the state you can't easily just go teach in another state. That problem is imaginary. Very real however is the Blue Valley scenario where the best teachers in Lawrence are moving to the JoCo schools to get $5-10k per year raises. Lawrence public schools pay incredibly poor salaries relative to surrounding districts. Folks with children- remember, you get what you pay for!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

"As for teachers leaving, since teacher licenses are issued by the state you can't easily just go teach in another state."

Sure, there are hoops to jump through, but with enough incentive, many teachers will gladly jump through those hoops. And this governor and legislature have provided plenty of incentive.

Matthew Herbert 5 years, 9 months ago

Sure, in theory it's possible. But in 7 years in the profession I've never once seen a teacher leave the state due to pay issues. Meanwhile, I see teachers LEAVE THE CITY for the higher pay other districts offer every year

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

But the salary and staff reductions that will be necessary to pay for these tax cuts are a game changer. And it'll affect every district, even Blue Valley, unless the wealthier districts are given much more flexibility to raise local property taxes in order to meet payroll expenses, in which case many of the poorer districts in the state may very well collapse entirely. I wonder how successful Sam's attempts at repopulating rural areas will be once this begins to happen.

pace 5 years, 9 months ago

I have two friends, who have left the state for better pay and one got smaller class size. I have several friends who would like to teach in Lawrence, but have chosen other districts because they have school loans to pay, and families to support.

Tracy Rogers 5 years, 9 months ago

I've seen quite a few leave the state strictly because of money. Two went to Wyoming for the exact same jobs and got $10,000 more in salary.

Scott Morgan 5 years, 9 months ago

Plain and simple, Blue Valley is offering the youth in district a better education than we in Lawrence can offer ours. Teaching salaries are no place to be cheapskates.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 9 months ago

In reference to the Blue Valley scenario, I recall speaking to a teacher at a private school a while back. I was somewhat surprised that this primary school teacher, with a law degree, was earning less than a public school teacher. When I inquired why she would choose to work at a private school, she said that in a private school, she didn't have to put up with all the "stuff" she would have to put up with if she had been in a public school. I must wonder if Blue Valley has less "stuff" do deal with that neighboring school districts.

booyalab 5 years, 9 months ago

I was going to post the same thing. The sense of entitlement is incredible.

pace 5 years, 9 months ago

Buzz word warning alert. Workers, teachers demanding pay for work. entitlement. Hog wash. If you don't ask they sure won't give it to you. Few bosses will give you what you are worth, unless you tell them. I have appreciated every raise, but I earn them, working aint' some welfare, it is work. Advise to grads. Ask for fair wage, don't listen to the ones who say, you should work for the honor (they usually got theirs) be a worth while employee. show up, do your job and do it professionally. If you have a job that doesn't pay you, do your job, do it well, and really look for another. They are out there. While we are on the subject, the next time I hear some wing nut say a veteran's GI benefits are welfare, I might slap them. It is a part of service pay, and boy do they earn it.
The interchangeable use of benefit with entitlement and the word welfare is criminal disrespect for our returning veterans.

pace 5 years, 9 months ago

If respecting education and veterans is not something you are ready to stick your neck out for. Too bad. I am not on that manure barge. It is manure too. A lot of people aren't buying the spin that teachers and veterans asking for pay, respect and benefits , to call that welfare is your words, i call that lie. . I consider that spin the same old lie and crow of losers.

bwhacker 5 years, 9 months ago

Actually, it's even more wrong to consider the GI benefits welfare. In the old program, you paid into the system initially in order to receive benefits. Now it's an enticement to get people to enlist. It's not given for nothing; high demand occupations in the military are in competition with private industry for individuals capable of meeting those needs. An educational benefits program is a way to remain competitive when salaries often are not.

That's no different than a signing bonus or other benefit offered to recruit employees to private companies.

Liberty275 5 years, 9 months ago

Why is the school district even talking to the union? Let the individual teachers negotiate their own wages based on their experience and record. Lock the unions out of the process.

KSManimal 5 years, 9 months ago

"Lock the unions out"

What part of "...right to peaceable assembly..." and " petition the government for redress of grievances" don't you like?

Liberty275 5 years, 9 months ago

OK, send in the union to assemble peaceably and do their petition thing, then ignore that they were there. The question still remains, why are we even giving them the time of day?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

Because being such narrow-minded jerks would lead to declines in the quality of schools and education in any way you care to measure it (although your religious adherence to your precious ideology would never allow you to acknowledge that.)

Liberty275 5 years, 9 months ago

Teachers that let their paychecks affect their performance shouldn't be teaching.

I will always be against unions. People should negotiate for themselves. I do it, why can't others?

You can reserve your hate for someone that cares. It doesn't bother me.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

"People should negotiate for themselves."

Umm, that's what unions do-- negotiate for the people who belong to them.

Liberty275 5 years, 9 months ago

BTW, thank you for pointing out my flaw in writing that. While I meant it metaphorically, it probably came across too literal. The thought of violating any group's right to assemble and/or to petition the government is vile and you should be applauded for standing up for those rights. Kudos.

ivalueamerica 5 years, 9 months ago

that is not true,,,,Yes, I am aware that a study came out that said that some time back, and you took it and ran. However, more sensible minds, including the very one's who made the study, realized they calculated wrong and while the USA is up there, we are far from the highest in taxes for education. We rank about 6th. However, as usual, I would never expect you to let a fact get in a way of your opinion.

I think, however, that you consistently fail to understand that has a direct correlation to the value of your opinion to others.

ivalueamerica 5 years, 9 months ago

The USA continues to rank near dead last in most academic standings compared to other Western nations.

Our response, underfund education.

Stupid is as stupid does.

nascar 5 years, 9 months ago

What the article doesn't say:

Due to a "One Way Participation Agreement" the district signed with the current health care provider there is a total of $905,000 available due to claims not being as high as predicted. That money was first offered as a one time payment but after a caucus the BOE team returned with the offer to put that money on the scale.

So let's see. The BOE is offering the teachers a raise that will, according to district administrators, cost $1.5 million, $905,000 of which they already had banked due to insurance money not paid out in claims. Seems cheap to this tax payer and future bond issue voter.

Has the BOE stopped to consider that the passage of a bond might just hinge on how well the second largest employer in the city takes care of its own?

KSManimal 5 years, 9 months ago

The money from Coventry Health Care isn't a "raise". Rather, it is money that already belongs to the district employees - it exists because of "overpayment" of premiums from prior years. For the district to call that a raise is disingenuous at best.

That money was never offered as raise on scale. It was always a one-time deal. The union objected to money that was already earned, and already belongs to the teachers, being called a "raise"; so the BOE stopped calling it that.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 9 months ago

How much money is in the USD 497 reserve fund? At one point it was near $28 million.

Ill managed public school districts are not good for business. Then again neither is Sam Brownback,Chamber of NOT Commerce which is represented by the executive leadership of the local real estate/builder/developer/banking industries.

Teachers in USD 497 represent more a labor of love than fair pay. Be glad some are able to hang in there.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 9 months ago

Save $3 million on the bus program?

Something to think about as we must assume Brownback will reduce public school spending as he opens more local doors to tax dollar increases.

USD 497 budgets $4-4.5 million to bus students. The district is charged at a daily rate depending on how many students use the transportation.

Would parents be willing to find other means for getting students to school IF it meant keeping all the schools open,teachers employed and retaining important subject matter/programs?

Think car pooling,family members, The T ,walking and biking etc etc etc.

USD 497 said it needed $3 million in 2011. Are WE USD 497 taxpayers willing to come up with $3 million? Laying off teachers and/or killing a pay scale is not the answer.

Public school students use the T as we speak. Can the T provide service to some parents for less money? How many ways can the T assist USD 497 parents.

IF 75% of students were no longer bussed: 75% of $4,000,000 = $3,000,000 (million)

75% of $4,500,000 = $3,375,000

This bus service was not put out for bid to the best of my knowledge. Although the numbers were compared to what other districts were paying. Is this the best we can do?

Saving three million dollars annually on bus service may be necessary. It is my view obviously that this special committee must think about all financial avenues to produce the most fiscal responsible decision.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 9 months ago

As for the bond issue which I believe will be hard to pass. After all the former USD 497 BOE put taxpayers $20,000,000(million) in debt for the PLAY project(city hall wants millions more for PLAY).

The previous USD 497 boards did not put much effort into maintaining taxpayer owned property because some were hell bent on closing schools.

As for the bond issue which will be hard to pass I suggest this new USD 497 BOE get on with rehabilitating the taxpayer owned property with current available tax dollars that come to the capital outlay fund. Yes this will take longer. The poll below indicates this would be accptable:

It is unfortunate for the new BOE members who were dealth this deck of cards however getting it done should be our primary objective.

USD 497 Priorities:

Property Tax Increase? When so many in Lawrence have become unemployed?

Teacher Salary Support

Flap Doodle 5 years, 9 months ago

Ya think anything has changed since that poll was taken 9 years ago, merrill? Time marches on. (from a source)

4getabouit 5 years, 9 months ago

Busing for student over 2.5 miles from school is mandated and reimbursed by the state Merrill. Wait for it......................................they have to do it bonehead. It's the law Ding Dong. They haven't provided bussing for families under the 2.5 threshold for years. And, the busing contract is always bid. Request the board minutes for the last bidding process. God your homework and show some degree of intelligence before making these claims. What a nimrod you are.

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