After nearly six hours of negotiations, representatives with the Lawrence school district and its teachers union were not able to agree on changes to the district's teacher contract.
Teacher salary increases, limits to teachers' work day and additional planning time for elementary teachers were all sticking points in the discussion, with negotiators from both sides making multiple proposals and counter proposals.
Tuesday's meeting was the fifth between district leaders and negotiations for the union, the Lawrence Education Association.
Last month, the LEA proposed to raise every teacher's base pay by $250 per year, in addition to funding regular pay increases for additional years of experience and college degrees. On Tuesday, district leaders initially responded by proposing only raises for additional college degrees, or “horizontal increases," and a $400 uniform increase in base pay for all teachers.
USD 497 teacher salary schedule ( .PDF )
The proposal was presented by Anna Stubblefield, director of human resources and lead negotiator for the district. It would cost about $563,000 to fund the proposal, which would amount to a 1.1 percent pay increase. The proposal said that Lawrence school board prefers a base pay increase of $400 "so all teachers receive a more uniform increase in compensation and the salary schedule is improved for competitive hiring purposes."
But David Reber, lead negotiator for LEA, said increasing base pay by $400 while not also funding raises or “vertical increases” for additional years of service shortchanges teachers much more income in the long run.
“If you don’t move one year it doesn’t just affect that year,” Reber said. “Then you’re one step behind where you would have been for the next maybe dozen years”
For instance, under the current salary schedule, a teacher with a bachelor’s degree would receive a starting salary of $37,630. If vertical increases were fully funded each year, that teacher would be making $45,505 after 13 years of service.
The district amended its proposal, offering one of two options: to fund both horizontal and vertical raises and a $100 raise in base pay for all teachers, or only horizontal raises and a $600 raise in base pay. The LEA indicated they would prefer the former offer, but a final decision will not be made until the next negotiations meeting.
Negotiators also went back and forth over limits to teachers’ hours or “duty day” and the ability to make changes to those schedules. Negotiators for both sides indicated they would agree to add two days for planning time for elementary teachers.
Any proposed changes to the teacher contract are not final until negotiations are complete. Contract negotiations will continue at noon June 28 at district offices, 110 McDonald Drive.