The Shawnee Mission School District and its teachers have finally come to an agreement on this year’s work contract.
The board is set to vote on the agreement at a Tuesday morning meeting. Teachers won’t vote on the contract until next week, said Linda Sieck, president of the National Education Association Shawnee Mission.
Teachers and the board have been in negotiations over the contract since April. By July the two sides had been involved in four negotiating sessions but were not able to reach an agreement. A federal mediator came in and met separately with both sides.
This is the first time in three or four years that Shawnee Mission teachers had been at an impasse with the school board, Sieck said.
The contract involves issues on health insurance, the teachers’ calendar, changes in extended leave and changes in high school teacher planning time.
“There was no change in the salary base,” said Sieck. But what held up negotiations was a question of how teachers are compensated on years when they are not getting a salary boost.
Teacher salaries are determined by a pay scale, and movement up a step — with a salary increase included — is determined by years of experience in the district and/or gaining additional education credentials. Also, teachers who are not getting a salary bump for either reason can get a one-time stipend.
District officials were holding firm on making that stipend available only to teachers with master’s degrees. But teachers wanted a stipend for those with bachelor’s degrees as well.
Included in the contract being voted on is a $1,025 stipend for bachelor’s-degree holders and $1,375 for teachers with a master’s degree or higher.
“We have been working in Kansas under very hard financial times in the state,” Sieck said. “Our district has always budgeted conservatively. We hope a new financial formula for schools is in the 2017 legislative session and maybe some tax law changes to get more money flowing in the state, because that’s the only way teachers are going to get a salary increase.”