Lawrence school board to consider ratifying 2021-22 teacher contract with no salary increases

photo by: Dylan Lysen/Lawrence Journal-World

Lawrence Public Schools district offices pictured in April 2021.

Lawrence teachers are not expected to receive an overall raise during the 2021-22 school year, according to a tentative contract agreement with the school district.

The school board on Monday will consider ratifying the agreement between the local teachers union and the district’s administration for the 2021-22 school year.

Julie Boyle, a spokeswoman for the district, said in an email Friday that the two sides agreed to keep salaries flat because of the district’s budgetary issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the pandemic caused a significant decrease in enrollment last fall, which resulted in less education funding from the state.

Boyle said the bargaining teams might continue discussions this fall over possible salary increases if the budgetary situation has improved by then.

“Due to budget constraints brought on by COVID-19 and the loss of enrollment, the team agreed to return to the table in September to discuss the budget and the potential for salary increases,” Boyle said. “… The team agreed that the current budget outlook does not allow for (increases) without significant budget cuts to personnel and instructional programs.”

Some teachers may still see increased compensation through the contract. The agreement would allow for “horizontal movement” in the pay structure, which allows teachers to earn wage increases for continuing their education — for example, earning a master’s degree.

Teachers may also see smaller compensation increases through other areas, such as a one-time health insurance rebate and a decrease in premium costs for teachers signing up for a spouse or family insurance plan.

If the board approves the ratification, the contract with the teachers will be finalized. The teachers union said in a social media post earlier this week that its members had ratified the agreement.


In other business, the board will hear a report about the district’s consulting partnership with Equal Opportunity Schools, an organization that aims to “ensure that students of color and low-income students have equitable access to America’s most academically intense high school programs and succeed at the highest levels,” according to a memo to the board members.

Both Lawrence High School and Free State High School participated in the organization’s consulting process during the 2020-21 school year. Information regarding the last year will be provided to the board on Monday.

The school board will meet at 6 p.m. Monday in the new boardroom at the district offices, 110 McDonald Drive. The meeting is open to the public, but the district may limit attendance because of the pandemic.

Those who attend will be required to wear masks, have their temperatures checked and physically distance from others. The district also encourages the public to watch the meeting on Midco channel 26 or online at youtube.com/USD497.

Those who want to speak during public comments but won’t attend the meeting can still do so. The district asks for comments to be sent by email to PublicComment@usd497.org. 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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