Archive for Wednesday, October 26, 2005

School teachers, district to meet again tonight

October 26, 2005

Tonganoxie teachers and the school district continue to talk salaries.

At an Oct. 12 salary negotiation meeting, the Tonganoxie school district offered teachers a two-year salary package that would increase pay for new teachers by 9 percent.

But after the teachers met last week, they decided the district's offer needed more fine-tuning.

Janet Burnett, spokesperson for the Tonganoxie Education Association, said Monday that about 85 teachers voted, and only half were in favor of the district's plan.

"The teachers, half of them, did not like a two-year contract," Burnett said.

And, she said, some teachers didn't agree with the district's proposal to raise veteran teacher salaries by $1,000, while salaries of new teachers were increasing by $2,650.

The plan proposed by the district would increase district spending on salaries by a total of $330,590, said school Superintendent Richard Erickson. Last year the district spent $4,141,386 on teacher salaries.

School board member Leana Leslie, who represents the school district with fellow board member Darlyn Hansen and Erickson, said she thought the board's offer was sound.

"I feel very good about the offer," Leslie said last week.

The first year's salary package:

  • Adds $1,000 to the base salary of veteran teachers.
  • Adds $100 per month toward health insurance premiums for those enrolled in the district's health insurance plan.
  • Raises the base salary for beginning teachers from $27,850 to $30,500, a 9 percent increase. This would apply to teachers who are in their first three years of teaching.
  • Funds one during-the-day planning period per month for elementary teachers and provides for substitute teachers to fill in for teachers during this time.

The second year of the package adds another $900 to the base salary, adds an additional $50 per month toward health insurance premiums and increases salary stipends for teachers who increase college hours.

Leslie said she thought the district's proposal met most of the teachers' needs. And, raising the base salary for beginning teachers should help the district in recruiting, she said.

Salary increases would take effect as soon as parties reach an agreement, and teachers would receive pay retroactive to the start of the school year.

The next teacher negotiation meeting is set for 6 tonight.

Burnett said teachers want to continue negotiating with the district.

"We would prefer not to file impasse papers at this time," she said. "We would like to continue meeting and talking with the board so that we can come to an agreement."

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