Teachers lower request for raises

Negotiators for teachers in the Lawrence school district are inching closer to the district’s position on salary offers for the coming school year.

But both sides admittedly have a long way to go, as the Lawrence school board welcomes a new majority of members next week.

Thursday evening, representatives of the Lawrence Education Association reduced their request for across-the-board raises to $1,435 for each licensed educator. The proposal is down 4.3 percent from the $1,500 the union has been seeking for each of the 926 educators covered by the master agreement now being negotiated.

The union figures that the total reduction would be roughly equal to even the most “generous” interpretation of the district’s latest offer, which would allow teachers who had earned sufficient credit hours or other qualifying training to move ahead on the district’s salary scale.

Of all licensed educators, 39 have applied for such movement, worth anywhere from $500 to $1,500 per teacher, depending on where the teacher qualified on the schedule. At $1,500 for those teachers, the board would be paying teachers an extra total of $58,500 next year.

“We’re wanting to move toward common ground by approximately the same amount that the board team moved the last time,” said David Reber, the union’s lead negotiator, a biology teacher at Free State High School. “It’s still got a long way to go.”

Monday night, district negotiators plan to take the package to members of the school board for review. Four of the seven members will be new, taking office after having been elected in April: Rick Ingram, Shannon Kimball, Randy Masten and Keith Diaz Moore.