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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Leavenworth school district, teachers working to resolve contracts

  • Despite being nearly halfway through the 2013-14 school year, Leavenworth public school system teachers are working under contracts from the previous school year.
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    • Story at a glance:
      • The Leavenworth School Board and Leavenworth National Education Association have not yet reached a contract agreement for the current school year.

      • Teachers are ...
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      Story at a glance:
      • The Leavenworth School Board and Leavenworth National Education Association have not yet reached a contract agreement for the current school year.
      • Teachers are working under 2012-13 contracts.
      • Negotiations are at an impasse, but both sides hope an agreement can be reached before mediation begins.
      • The negotiated agreement would impact about 430 teachers.
  • Despite being nearly halfway through the 2013-14 school year, Leavenworth public school system teachers are working under contracts from the previous school year.
    The Leavenworth teachers' union and Leavenworth School Board have not reached a negotiated contract agreement for the current year.
    Negotiations are legally defined as being at an impasse, but both sides are optimistic they can reach an agreement before mediation begins later this month.
    "We may have a compromise," said Ruth Striggow, a co-president of the Leavenworth chapter of the National Education Association.
    Striggow also is a member of the negotiating team for the teachers union.
    She said Friday afternoon she could not release details about the possible compromise.
    Kevin Gullett, the Leavenworth school district's chief financial officer, said the process could move forward as early as next week leading to a resolution.
    "I think we're very close right now," said Gullett, who serves on the negotiating team that represents the School Board.
    Gullett said about 430 teachers would be affected by the negotiated agreement, including teachers who work for the Leavenworth County Special Education Cooperative. The Leavenworth school system is the host district for the cooperative, which serves six districts in the county.
    A primary sticking point in the negotiations has been what is referred to as a "step," or vertical movement, on a pay grid known as the teachers' salary schedule. The Leavenworth NEA argued for the measure, which would result in pay raises.
    Gullett said the Leavenworth school district has enough money to pay for such a salary increase for its regular education teachers. He said the district would have to pay about an additional $170,000 for the salary increases.
    However, there isn't enough money to pay for salary increases for Special Education Cooperative teachers.
    Gullett said salaries for special education teachers are paid for from the cooperative's budget. It's anticipated the cooperative will end the school year with a cash balance of $125,000. That figure is short of the $197,000 that would be needed to pay salary increases if teachers moved up a "step" on their salary schedule.
    Each of the six member districts provide funding to the Special Education Cooperative.
    Gullett said superintendents of the other member districts have been hesitant to contribute additional money to pay for the requested salary increases.
    Gullett said he understands their position because districts already are putting more money into the cooperative this year.
    He said superintendents have agreed to offer a $500 payment to every returning teacher.
    Striggow said the LNEA is going to try to meet the district half way with it's latest proposal.
    Mediation is scheduled to begin Jan. 29.
    Page 2 of 2 - In the 13 years Gullett has been with the school district, negotiations with teachers have gone to mediation at least once, he said.
    If the mediation fails to work, a fact-finding process would follow.
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