Archive for Monday, July 25, 2016

Shawnee Mission teacher negotiations at impasse

Board president clarifies raises for teachers, administration

July 25, 2016

News that contract negotiations between the Shawnee Mission school district and teachers union had reached an impasse over pay increases has brought up some criticism of the district’s raises for administrators.

Comparison of pay increases for administration were reported in response to last week’s news that the district and the local National Education Association chapter were unable to agree on teacher compensation and would require a federal mediator. This prompted Sara Goodburn, president of the Shawnee Mission Board of Education, to release a statement clarifying the issue.

The items reportedly causing the impasse were the teachers union’s request for removal of two steps on the teacher salary schedule that would have increased salaries for dozens of district teachers. The union also asked that the district provide a stipend to teachers who haven’t seen a pay increase on the salary schedule. The stipend already is offered for those with a master’s degree or higher, but was requested to also be offered to teachers with a bachelor’s degree.

When reporting the impasse, the Shawnee Mission Post, an online newspaper, mentioned that five administrators in the past year received raises totaling about $75,000 per year, but the district rejected a request for an across-the-board pay increase.

Goodburn’s statement said the administrative increases were approved at the board’s June 2015 meeting.

Goodburn said the most recent action taken was in December, when the contracts of Jim Hinson, superintendent, and Kenny Southwick, assistant superintendent, were extended through 2018-19.

“No increases in salary have been awarded to any administrators for the 2016-17 school year,” Goodburn said. “We typically do not consider salary increases for administrators or other employee groups until the negotiations process with our teachers has reached a tentative contractual agreement.”

Goodburn said the district and teacher’s union were able to reach tentative agreements on many issues, and the declaration of an impasse was agreed to on both sides.

“The district has a longstanding positive relationship with our teachers, and we remain optimistic that a contract will be reached through this process,” she said.

She noted that Hinson, since joining the district three years ago, has been working to reorganize the administration and reduced its overall costs by about $1.8 million last year, and some duties formerly assigned to several administrators were condensed.

“With an increase in scope of administrative responsibilities and oversight, compensation increases are appropriate,” she said.

Goodburn added that the board works to ensure its administrative salaries are comparable to and competitive with area school districts of similar size. She also noted that, according to data from the Kansas State Department of Education, Shawnee Mission ranks as the second most efficient school district in the state in terms of administrator-to-pupil ratio.

Meanwhile, the De Soto school district reported it reached an agreement with its teachers union in May, with the board approving contracts in June.

Alvie Cater, district communications director, said the teacher contracts didn’t change much from last year but included a salary enhancement, allowing teachers two horizontal steps and two vertical steps on the salary schedule, which he called a “huge improvement.”

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