Lawrence school board to meet in executive session to discuss labor contract with district staff

photo by: Dylan Lysen/Lawrence Journal-World

Lawrence school district offices, pictured in April 2021.

The Lawrence school board will convene for a brief meeting on Monday to discuss labor negotiations with district staff.

The board is scheduled to discuss the contract negotiations in an executive session, which allows the board to meet in private to discuss the details of a certain issue up for consideration.

Julie Boyle, a spokeswoman for the school district, said the meeting is meant to update the board on negotiations with PAL-CWA, a labor union representing the district’s classified staff, which includes paraeducators, custodians and office staff, among other employees. The school district is currently negotiating its first contract with the labor union.

During a board meeting in August, members of the union said they were asking the board to increase pay for classified staff because they are paid less than a living wage. Whether the district will raise their wages remains to be seen. Additionally, the district has been struggling with its budget because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this year, the board ratified a contract with another union — the teachers union — that included no base salary increases. Boyle said at the time that the two sides agreed to keep salaries flat because of the district’s budgetary issues. But she also said at the time that bargaining teams might continue discussions this fall over possible salary increases if the budget situation improved.

It’s unclear whether the new enrollment numbers have affected that situation.

While the district saw an increase of in-person learners this year, it also saw a decrease among its virtual student enrollment. Overall, the district saw a total drop of 247 K-12 students, a decrease of about 2.2%, the Journal-World reported.

The district had hoped to see more students return to in-person learning to help bolster its budget. Without a larger increase, finance director Kathy Johnson said the district was “still navigating a lot of unknowns.”

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. 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 comment, either in person or online, must send an email to PublicComment@usd497.org before the meeting begins at 6 p.m. Additionally, anyone who wants to share comments with board members via email may send them to schoolboard@usd497.org.


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