By JESSICA CRAWFORD
• Daily Leader
A tentative agreement between USD No. 480 and LNEA regarding teacher contracts has finally been reached as of Sept. 30. The Board of Education unanimously approved its side of the bargain during Monday evening’s meeting. Teachers will vote on the agreement Wednesday afternoon.
Superintendent Lance Stout was glad to hear the negotiation process was nearly over, and the two sides had come to an agreement.
“I am very happy, certainly that the negotiating teams from the board of education and LNEA have come up with a consentual agreement for the upcoming two years,” Stout said. “Both parties worked diligently to come up with a contract that is fair. It is evident that this agreement encompasses components that were very important to both sides.
“Again, I am thankful that a tentative agreement has been reached, and I certainly look forward to moving forward from this point,” he added.
Part of the agreement will add three days to the 2011-12 school year. Stout said the additional days would be best utilized during the first semester. However, Stout will consult the calendar committee as well as teachers throughout the district before making a decision as to where the additional days will be placed on the 2011-12 calendar.
“As we begin looking at the calendar for next year, the 2011-12 academic year, I am confident that a calendar will be drafted that will add time to the first semester,” Stout said. “There are two reason, at this point, why I think that is important.
“First of all, it will close the gap of student contact days between the first and second semester,” he explained. “Currently, there are 79 student contact days in the first semester and 93 student contact days in the second semester. Certainly I think it is important that we keep that in mind.
“The second point is, adding the three student contact days to the first semester allows teachers and students additional time to prepare for the Kansas State Assessments which take place, of course, in the second semester,” he added.
Following executive session, the board unanimously approved the tentative agreement between the board and LNEA regarding teacher contracts. The board also unanimously approved a pay raise for administrative personnel.
“Since the negotiating teams for USD 480 and LNEA have reached a tentative agreement for 2010-11 and 2011-12, central office is recommending the administration receive the same average percent raises as the teachers,” board president Reid Petty said. “For 2010-11 this is a 1.8 percent pay raise.”
The motion to approve the raise was made by board member Dr. Jim Jury and received a second from board member Cheryl Louderback.
Board member Stacy Johnson sought to add to the agenda a 50-cent raise for classified personnel. This raise is in addition to the 25-cent raise approved for classified personnel prior to the beginning of the school year. The board unanimously approved adding the item to the agenda and ultimately unanimously approved the raise.
In other matters, Stout announced during a meeting with representatives of the Liberal Police Department, use of Rex, the LPD’s K-9 unit, was discussed.
“I met last week, along with Diane (Gross) and Paul (Larkin), we met with John Antrim and Chief Sill of the Liberal Police Department,” Stout said. “They requested that we meet with them. They have a new K-9 dog within the department that they are very excited to start working collaboratively with the school district. We got another meeting set up this month and hopefully we will have more details for the board to consider by the November Board of Education meeting.
“The initial thought process is to do a lot of work with the younger children and show them how the dog works and those types of things,” he explained. “As we get into the middle school and high school perhaps then, of course, utilize the dog for what he has been trained to do – searches and those types of things.”
Director of Human Resources and Public Relations Paul Larkin gave up-to-date, district-wide enrollment information. As of Oct. 4, there are 94 more students enrolled in the district than reported on Sept. 20, 2009. There are currently 4,557 students enrolled in USD 480.
“My report is up to date as of 2 p.m. (Monday) afternoon,” Larkin said. “The numbers are actually down from the Sept. 20 count. The Sept. 20 count actually showed us up 120 students compared to a year ago. So, the numbers we will get paid on are higher than you see today.
Sept. 20 head counts are what state funding is based on, Larkin added.