Archive for Thursday, June 13, 2013

Teachers reach contract agreement with Lawrence district

June 13, 2013


The Lawrence school district and the local teachers union reached a tentative agreement this week on a new contract that would give members an average 3 percent pay increase next year.

District officials said the package includes pay raises averaging $1,381 per year for each employee covered by the contract. That includes across-the-board increases in base pay plus funding of “step” increases for years of experience and for additional degrees or college credit.

“I think both sides are fairly pleased with the way things turned out and what we were able to agree on,” said David Reber, a member of the union negotiating team and a science teacher at Free State High School.

In addition to the salary boost, Reber said the contract calls for the district to absorb an estimated 7 percent increase in health insurance premiums for individual employees. Those premiums are scheduled to increase $24.38 per month.

Other elements include a $1-per-hour increase in extra-duty pay for teachers who do additional work beyond the regular school day, a $5-per-month increase in the district’s contributions to 403(b) retirement savings plans and agreement on a new evaluation system that will rate teachers’ performance based in part on student growth and achievement.

District officials said the cost of all the enhancements would add up to $1.8 million.

“Despite the Kansas Legislature’s decision to not increase base state aid for K-12 schools next year, the Lawrence Board of Education is making a concerted effort to improve employee salaries and benefits,” said Kyle Hayden, assistant superintendent of business and operations. “The district will utilize reserve funds to reward teachers and staff for their outstanding efforts to support student achievement.”

Reber said the contract still needs to be ratified by members of the collective bargaining unit. He said ballots will be mailed out to members soon, and various places will be made available in the district where members can return their marked ballots.

The Lawrence school board is expected to vote on the contract at its next meeting June 24.

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toe 4 years, 10 months ago

Teachers did very well prying more money out of the taxpayers. A 3 percent raise on their lavish salaries is going to pay a lot of sales and property taxes.

Elaine Elliott 4 years, 10 months ago

It's from reserved funds, not higher taxes. I know it's very confusing when it's clearly printed above.

NewKansan 4 years, 10 months ago

I'm hoping you were being sarcastic. I'm guessing you are, but you never know with people on here.

KSManimal 4 years, 10 months ago

toe, you clearly have little understanding of how your government works, and even less understanding of how public education funding works. The negotiations process described here has NOTHING to do with tax rates. It has to do with how to allocate the funds that are already in place.

jonas_opines 4 years, 10 months ago

Only the first six words of your post were necessary.

Elaine Elliott 4 years, 10 months ago

Except for the 5 previous years, besides those years, they get raises every year. Now their starting salary is 37k, bunch of heartless cry babies.

KSManimal 4 years, 10 months ago

Hey, at $37K....they are right at the income level needed to avoid Brownback's increased tax burden on the lowest-income Kansans!

KSManimal 4 years, 10 months ago

186 contract days @ 8 hours/day = 1488 hours. $37K/1488 = $24.87/hour. Of course, that's assuming a beginning teacher would only work 8 hours/day; which is an absurd assumption. A more accurate (yet very conservative) figure might be 10 hrs/day M-F, plus another five hours over the weekend. Do that math and you get about $18/hour (for a job which requires a college degree).

Lisa Medsker 4 years, 10 months ago

A degree, as well as a certification. (Certification is granted with ongoing education as well as fees paid to the state in which they are employed.)

skull 4 years, 10 months ago

3%!!!! Oh the humanity. That'll keep up with inflation!

Currahee 4 years, 10 months ago

Everyone keeps demanding more... more... more... why never less? Have your raises. I expect a 3% productivity improvement.

Currahee 4 years, 10 months ago

Sorry you couldn't read it clear from your rage and dismay. The context of it was why is there never a reduction in what we pay in taxes? Do you know how these schools work? I tutored at an elementary school in another state. Guess what history books they were using? They were using the same books I had when I was in 5th grade. These teachers can only do so much, but the system turns out idiots every year. Do you think they deserve it? At my job I help perform automation for computers so people don't need to do repetitive, time consuming, and mundane tasks. I hope you contribute as much at your job. But then again, seeing how many posts you've made you probably don't have one.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 10 months ago

"The context of it was why is there never a reduction in what we pay in taxes?"

Well, for one, there's inflation, and, two, a reduction in taxes will pretty much always result in a reduction in services. Almost all of the services we currently have exist because there is a need. The service under discussion here is education. While you may believe that education isn't necessary, most people don't, and they certainly don't believe that it can be provided by the automatons that you produce in your work.

KSManimal 4 years, 10 months ago

Instead of berating people who help themselves do better, why not ask yourself why you're willing to settle for less?

Currahee 4 years, 10 months ago

My opinion is now berating other people? Has this come down to "If you don't agree with me, you're 1000% wrong"?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 10 months ago

No, the berating of people is what is the considered berating of people (for disagreeing with you.)

Bob Forer 4 years, 10 months ago

They are just taking their cue from the one per centers, who want it all.

John Kyle 4 years, 10 months ago

Is a coincidence that the posters here who hate teachers are also the most ignorant?

ResQd 4 years, 10 months ago

I don't think anybody hates the teachers. It's the administration that is top heavy. I personally have always thought the teachers should be paid more. But, people are getting tired of being taxed, taxed and taxed again. The money is coming from some type of tax base.

chootspa 4 years, 10 months ago

Except for the largest tax cut in state history, yes. People are getting taxed taxed taxed again. Unless you're rich, in which case you may not have to pay state taxes at all.

tomatogrower 4 years, 10 months ago

And yet, we have had nothing but tax cut after tax cut, after tax cut. When will you be happy about fewer tax cuts?

KSManimal 4 years, 10 months ago

Yes, the money is coming from taxes. No, you are not being "taxed, taxed, and taxed again" in order to pay for these raises. This is simply a re-allocation of existing dollars. There has been no increase in taxes for public education at this time.

Lefty54 4 years, 10 months ago

Sounds like a nice deal for everyone. Glad the teachers are getting a well deserved raise after being frozen for a long time.

Tradways 4 years, 10 months ago

As a state employee I've had pay cut by 3% with no raise for the past 5 years with the same required education. Oh by the way 1/2 my dept's budget does not come from taxes. What the legislatures spent on the renovation of the capital would have funded us for 3 years.

smileydog 4 years, 10 months ago

Is the $37,000 per year starting pay really true? That's $4111 per working month

chootspa 4 years, 10 months ago

Only if teachers actually stopped working when the bell rang. They don't.

tomatogrower 4 years, 10 months ago

Maybe in the private sector for those in management there is some chance of making more money, because you are more productive, but for the workers there is usually a beginning pay rate that is the same for everyone, then your pay goes up after a certain period, and yes, the better workers get the raise earlier, but in the end there is a maximum pay after a certain period of time. The better worker gets to that point a little faster than the lazy worker, but in the end they are making the same pay. So the lazy worker does just what he needs to do to keep his/her job and the hard worker mostly will continue to do a good job, only because he/she has some pride. Yes, maybe there will be a promotion to a management position, but it's not always guaranteed to go to the hard worker. If the lazy worker kisses the right behinds, they will get the promotion. I've lived over 60 years now, and have not seen any "merit pay" in private industry, so why should it be in schools? Conservatives talk about merit pay for teachers, but then defend huge bonuses for CEO's who bankrupt a company. Sounds pretty hypocritical to me.

purplesage 4 years, 10 months ago

As a matter of fact, to satisfy KRichards, I did take a pay cut - of 50%. And I have had no raise in over 5 years.

Having served on a school board, some of you who talk as though you understand this, don't. "Funds in place" are tax dollars, collected as the result of already levied taxes. If there are increases each year, rolled into the base, increases are granted on the increases. And that makes the levying of higher taxes necessary.

Teaching is not as poorly paid as it once was and as the teacher's unions want us to perceive their profession to be. And of course, there is summer . . . during which there is freedom to work on advanced degrees, on another job, or on not much at all. And 85 and out retirement. And health insurance that really pays for something. Folks, it isn't a bad deal.

I just wonder if there's anything left for the non-certified staff? You know, the ones working for subsistence wages.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 10 months ago

Not to worry-- Brownback, et al, will make sure that the "not so bad deal" that teachers get will never rise to anything like a good deal, and the non-certified staff won't even get subsistence wages.

BTW, if your wages in your job are so bad, why don't you just follow the advice so often given to teachers?-- get a different job.

purplesage 4 years, 10 months ago

Probably for the same reason teachers stay in theirs. A sense of making a difference, a calling, a passion, call it what you like. There are other rewards than money.

meatheadwisdom 4 years, 10 months ago

Yes, I believe the district has traditionally given the classified staff the same increase as certified, so they should receive 3% increases and see the same health insurance increase on a full time employee

chootspa 4 years, 10 months ago

They ended 85 and out years ago. The only people who get that deal are teachers who are already in the system.

avaholic 4 years, 10 months ago

I love reading the comments in the LJWorld. It always makes me laugh.

Lefty54 4 years, 10 months ago

A lot of people don't understand how much teachers work. My wife is a teacher and works from 7:00 am to at least 5:30 pm 5 days a week. Then she goes in on Sunday afternoons to prepare for the week ahead. Required staff meetings before and after school. Help team meetings, SAT team meetings, IEP meetings, conferences with parents. And then classes in June and July to stay licensed.
This crazy 3 months off talk is from ignorant people who don't know what teachers do.

bevy 4 years, 10 months ago

Lefty, my dad was a teacher, and there is just no fighting this ignorant perception that teachers work a lot fewer hours than other professions. My dad worked the same kind of hours your wife did every day, except for the days when he worked even more hours to coach football and basketball games, often getting home at 10 p.m. You can't make them understand, because they are determined to believe that all teachers are lazy, incompetent drains upon society.

George Lippencott 4 years, 10 months ago

Would some knowledgeable person comment. Is this three percent (actually a bit more) a cost of living increase or in addition to an already built in cost of living increase?

Brad Greenwood 4 years, 10 months ago

There is no built in cost of living increase. The matrix that determines how teachers are paid (educational background and teaching experience and years served, etc...) is fixed at definite amounts and doesn't change unless it goes through negotiations like this. In years where there was no money added to the matrix, and if you had already been in the district for about 8 years, the only way you could get more money was to take more graduate hours (which costs a lot!). No adjustment was made for cost of living. Hope that helps.

George Lippencott 4 years, 10 months ago

Yes it did and thank you - changed opinion. May I ask another? Are there periodic jumps based on years of service or is that limited to eight years?

KSManimal 4 years, 10 months ago

Not sure where the "8" came from.... The current salary matrix has 13 steps, meaning that teachers can only move vertically 13 times and are then "maxed" on the scale. For teachers on the top step, raises are significantly lower than for those who can move. This year, the 45% of teachers in this position get a raise of $800. The figure of $1,381 in the article is an average, and includes the $800 plus variable amounts due to movement on the matrix for those who can move.

George Lippencott 4 years, 10 months ago

Time in district. I mistook it for time in service in the matrix.

Thanks again. The wife was a teaher and had a matrix not unlike this one but I did not want to assume that until I found some answers. I suspect the matrix is posted somewhere in the school systems web pages.

Brad Greenwood 4 years, 10 months ago

The 8 years is an estimate. Starting employees are placed on the scale (usually) at the base, and each year (or so... this method changed a few years back) we're moved up to the next level which means a little more money. This continues until you max out on experience, which took me 8 years in the district to reach (that's where the 8 came from). So for employees like me, the only way I get a raise is either through negotiations or by taking additional graduate hours. (Which, if you take them at KU, it's not worth the pay increase because tuition is ridiculous.)

KSManimal 4 years, 10 months ago

Actually, moving vertically each year is NOT automatic or guaranteed. Neither is increased pay for additional college credits. Any such movement is and must be negotiated every year.

George Lippencott 4 years, 10 months ago

That seems like a lot of negotiation and a very uncertain salary structure.

collaborator 4 years, 10 months ago

Aside from the argument over whether this negotiated raise is merited or not, has anyone wondered how the cost of this 3% raise will be sustained in future budget years? This was taken from the district's reserves (aka emergency contingency funds). What will happen next year and the following years if state revenues stay flat or decrease (quite likely)? What happens if district enrollment numbers take a dip? Will the district once again dip into reserves for the $1.8 million (or more) to sustain this salary increase? Or will they be forced to seek $1.8 million or more in cuts to the regular operating budget?

All who work in public education deserve fair pay for their work. This agreement, however, seems to make no plan for future funding. What sounds like a great deal for the taxpayers (no new taxes for the pay increase) may backfire next year. Barring an increase in state revenue or the number of district FTE students in future years, the district's savings will continue to take a hit for this agreement. Lack of forward planning should be a part of this discussion.

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