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Archive for Friday, August 23, 2013

Lawrence teachers ratify contract

August 23, 2013

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Lawrence school district teachers formally ratified a new labor contract this week that includes pay and benefit increases as well as a new evaluation system that ties teacher performance ratings to student achievement.

Officials from the Lawrence Education Association, which represents local teachers in collective bargaining, said the final ballots were received late last week and the vote totals were certified this week.

The announcement was a formality in some respects because the Lawrence school board voted last month to approve a budget for the 2013-14 school year that included funding for the pay raises.

Still, union officials said they were pleased with the results.

"Yes, I was pleased with the number of votes," said Charlotte Anderson, this year's president of the LEA. "I think the LEA building reps are the ones that get the credit for distributing and collecting ballots at each school. Also, of course our negotiations committee that did the work."

The LEA represents more than 900 certified staff in the Lawrence district. Anderson said that more than 800 ballots were cast in the ratification vote.

David Reber, a biology teacher at Free State High School and a member of the negotiating committee, declined to release the exact vote tally, but said the votes were "overwhelmingly" in favor of the new contract.

The contract provides an increase in base pay plus funding for step increases on the salary scale, for an average increase of $1,381 a year. The contract also calls for the district to absorb the increased cost of employee health insurance, and it provides a slight increase in pay for teachers who perform additional duties such as sponsoring after-school events and programs.

District officials earlier estimated the cost of those enhancements at $1.8 million.

In addition, the contract calls for implementation of a new teacher evaluation system which will, for the first time, include student growth and performance as part of the evaluation system.

All school districts in Kansas are now required to adopt such evaluation systems as a condition for the state receiving a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law.

The school board also approved comparable pay and benefit increases for administrators and classified staff in the district.

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Contact Journal-World education reporter Elliot Hughes: ehughes@ljworld.com

Comments

Weather_Watcher 1 year, 3 months ago

And what a nice taxpayer I am to have provided the teachers with a raise and all the various other tax supported employees from DC on down.

Oh and all the utility companies also have had rate increases.

Wonder if I need to now go plant another money tree or two as I'm pretty sure the ones I have will not cover all these increased costs.

Just makes it ever more difficult for a retired person to stay in Lawrence and to continue to live in a home they have already paid for.

chootspa 1 year, 3 months ago

Be sure to tell Brownback how much you love the shift toward relying entirely on property and sales taxes to finance everything.

Weather_Watcher 1 year, 3 months ago

A tax increase is still a tax increase whether it is collected by DC, Kansas, Douglas County, Lawrence or by 497.

A utility rate increase is still an increase whether collected by a public utility or the City of Lawrence.

KSManimal 1 year, 3 months ago

Hey WeatherWatcher,

As one of those teachers you hate so much, I'll give you my $60/month raise if you can show me how this new teacher contract increases your taxes by one cent.

Take your time.....

Weather_Watcher 1 year, 3 months ago

Story says $1.8 million in salary enhancements is being spread over 900+ people, which includes covering the increase in cost of your medical premium, which is certainly a salary increase in my book. So don't forget that is your part of your salary improvement. Not just the additional $60/month raise.

I have nothing against teachers, I'm married to one. Just have some very serious doubts if 497 cares more about their teachers, or other items in their budget.

KSManimal 1 year, 3 months ago

OK, if you're going to talk insurance premiums then factor in the increase in premiums for spouses and kids which comes out of the employee's pocket. Now that $60/month raise comes to about $11/month in take-home pay.

But that's all a smoke screen from you so you can avoid responding to the question: show me where this contract package increases your taxes. Since you can't (or won't) respond to that, let me help you: it doesn't.

Cauac 1 year, 3 months ago

Weatherwatcher’s misunderstanding is perpetuated by sources like the Journal World, or at least their editorial writer. At least for operating expenses they don’t understand how school finance works. In their mind, if teacher salaries go up, then the board must have increased taxes. In reality the district gets a relatively fixed amount, and the board just decides how to divide it up. You can’t apply city and county taxes and spending to schools because they are fundamentally different.

So KSM is quite right and WW is quite wrong.

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