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.