Lawrence school board to consider ratifying teacher contract, approve administrative and classified employee raises

photo by: Mackenzie Clark/Journal-World File Photo

The Lawrence Board of Education meeting room at district offices, 110 McDonald Drive, is pictured in this file photo from Feb. 25, 2019.

Pay raises could soon be approved for many employees of the Lawrence school district.

During its meeting Monday, the Lawrence school board will consider 2020-2021 school year compensation packages for teachers and staff. If the packages are approved, the district’s teachers, administrators and classified staff would receive compensation increases amounting to about $2.1 million in total.

According to a memo to the school board, the total amount that the district spends on wages for its teachers would increase by 2.4%. The total amount for administrators would increase by 2.38%, and the total amount for classified staff would rise by 3.3%. When benefits and other costs are factored in, the district would be paying $1.3 million more in total teacher compensation, $155,000 more for administrators and $674,000 more for classified staff.

Not all teachers would receive raises at the same rate. The amount each individual teacher would receive depends on their eligibility to move on the teachers’ salary schedule.

The teachers’ compensation increase is part of a negotiated contract that the local teachers union and the school district administration agreed to earlier this month, the Journal-World has reported. Jeff Plinsky, a Lawrence High School teacher and negotiator for the union, said the teachers ratified the contract last week. Ratification by the board would be the final step of the process.

While the board members will consider finalizing the raises during their meeting, they had already approved a budget amendment to make room for the raises. In April, the board authorized a planned 2.4% increase for teachers as well as increases for classified and administrative staff at the same rate.

But the final percentage for classified staff has been tweaked since then. The classified staff’s overall compensation was increased to 3.3% because the school district chose to put savings it saw from cost reductions to medical fringe benefits into the classified staff’s salary pool.

“This will enable the board to provide additional salary to Classified employees,” the memo said.

The school board will meet at 6 p.m. Monday through an online conference call. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the school district encourages the public to to watch the meeting on Midco channel 26 or online at youtube.com/USD497.

Those who want to speak during public comments at the meeting can still do so. The school district asks for comments to be sent by email to PatronCommentary@usd497.org by 6 p.m. the day of the meeting. Comments can also be emailed to board members ahead of the meeting. Their contact information is available on the district’s website at usd497.org/Board.

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