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.