By PAUL LARKIN
• USD. NO. 480
Although a meeting with a federal mediator is scheduled for Sept. 30, negotiating teams for the USD No. 480 Board of Education and the local teachers’ union continue efforts to reach a compromise agreement regarding the district’s employment contract for the teaching staff. Within the last week, the teams exchanged offers and counter offers, with the most recent offer by the board including two options for the teachers to choose from.
Option A adds $625,000 to the health insurance pool, $200 to the base salary and three additional days to the teacher’s contract, beginning next school year (2011-2012).
Option B adds $500,000 to the health insurance pool, $50 to the base salary and converts three teacher work days to student contact days, beginning in the current school year.
Under both proposals, teachers will benefit from salary increases due to movement on the salary schedule based on education and years of experience.
The average teacher in the district would receive a 6 percent increase in salary and benefits under Option A. The average increase under Option B would be 4.7 percent.
According to the Kansas Association of School Boards, 159 of the 289 school districts in the State of Kansas have settled with the teachers’ union as of Aug. 20. For the districts that have settled, the average increase in salary and benefits for teachers is 1.3 percent.
“Especially considering what is happening with negotiations in other districts across the state and across the country, we are fortunate that we are in a position that we can offer the teachers a significant increase in salary and benefits,” Board of Education President Reid Petty said. “In addition, we are able to make this offer without cutting or freezing staff, as many other districts across the state have had to do.”
A dramatic increase in health insurance premiums has been the primary focus of the negotiations.
“Health insurance premiums for the district increased approximately 37 percent this year,” Petty said. “But with the proposal that we call Option A, the district is able to absorb most of that increase for the employees in the district.”
Included in the board’s proposal is a request that the union submit the offer to the teachers for a vote. The board also advised the union that both offers will expire if not accepted by at 4 p.m. Friday.