The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Teachers, school district reach tentative deal

  • A tentative agreement on teacher pay for the current school year has been reached between the Leavenworth school district and a local teachers' union.
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  • A tentative agreement on teacher pay for the current school year has been reached between the Leavenworth school district and a local teachers' union.
    "The teachers are in the process of voting to ratify," said Ginger Riddle, Leavenworth National Education Association co-president.
    The Leavenworth School Board typically waits for the union to ratify a negotiated agreement before voting to approve.
    The tentative agreement, which was reached Friday, would provide a one-time $500 bonus for each returning teacher this year. The agreement also would allow for salary adjustments to teachers for obtaining advanced degrees.
    Negotiations between the LNEA and district had been declared to be at an impasse earlier this school year. And, without an agreement for the current school year, teachers have been operating under terms of last year's deal.
    A primary point of contention in the negotiations had been what is referred to as a "step," or vertical movement, on a pay grid known as the teachers' salary schedule. Negotiators for the LNEA argued for such a "step," which would have resulted in a pay increase for teachers.
    School Board negotiators argued the district had enough money for raises for regular education teachers, but there wasn't enough money for salary increases for Leavenworth County Special Education Cooperative teachers.
    The Leavenworth school system serves as host district for the Special Education Cooperative. All of the cooperative's teachers are employees of the Leavenworth district.
    All six school districts that are cooperative members provide financial support to the organization.
    After an impasse was declared, negotiations proceeded to mediation, which failed to produce a resolution.
    The next stage in the negotiation process would have involved an appointed fact finder.
    "That would have been this week," Riddle said of the fact finding hearing.
    Kevin Gullett, the school district's chief financial officer, said the $500 payments will be paid to regular education and special education teachers.
    The tentative agreement, if approved, also will increase the amount the district contributes toward employee health insurance for the next school year.
    This will benefit employees signed up for a single person plan offered through the district and those who have "employee + 1" plans, according to the LNEA.
    Riddle said the resolution reached between the two sides now will allow negotiations for the 2014-15 school year to proceed.
    "We should have already started," she said.
    Salary increases for teachers in the Special Education Cooperative may not be an issue in negotiations for the future, given member districts are likely to dissolve the organization.
    The cooperative's dissolution has to be approved by the Kansas State Board of Education. A petition dealing with the issue is scheduled to go before the state board next month.
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