Five days after starting the 2013-14 school year, Shawnee Mission School District teachers have a tentative new contract. The agreement calls for a one-time stipend equal to two percent of base pay for a full-time employee.
The district also will contribute an additional $21 per month per employee to cover the increased cost of health insurance this year. The district contribution per employee is now limited to $533 per month. The stipend payment method, which does not adjust the overall salary schedule, has been used in previous years as well.
The salary schedule for teachers in Shawnee Mission under last year’s contract runs from $39,240 for a beginning teacher with a bachelor’s degree to more than $78,000 for a teacher with a doctorate and 26 years of experience.
The new contract does allow a teacher to get credit for professional growth. That means a teacher, for example, who gets a master’s degree will get credit on the salary schedule for the advanced education. Teachers, though, will not get credit for experience. The salary schedule contains steps that teachers normally advance through based upon each teaching year of experience. Under the contract, a teacher stays at whichever step they are currently paid.
In Shawnee Mission, teachers have not been allowed to move up the step schedule in other years, according to NEA-SM President Nancy Fritz. In 2010-2011, all salaries were frozen with no step increase. In 2011-2012, teachers received a $1,000 stipend, but no step increase or base increase (adjustment to the entire salary schedule). In 2012-2013, teachers received a step increase (allowed to move up a step on the schedule) and a two percent stipend, but no base increase.
In the 2011-2012 contract there was no professional growth provision, but those have been granted in other recent contract years. Fritz said she is concerned because some younger teachers see the path to better income blocked and are looking around outside of Kansas out of frustration. “It’s not our district’s fault,” Fritz said, it is a result of the legislature’s lack of education funding.
According to the district, for certified staff the stipend will cost approximately $2.2 million, the professional growth allowance $800,000 and the added health insurance contribution $257,000 in the current budget. The operating budget when passed by the board showed a surplus of $1.9 million, but that was before the contract agreement. It also did not include any draw down in fund balances.
An impasse had been declared earlier this year which sent negotiations between the National Education Association of Shawnee Mission and the school board to mediation.
“We appreciate the efforts of both teams during the negotiation and mediation process,” said Superintendent Jim Hinson. “We value the dedication and commitment demonstrated daily by our teachers as they work to meet the needs of our students in classrooms across the district.”
“The NEA-SM bargaining team agrees that this contract is the best agreement possible considering the state’s present economic conditions,” said Fritz. “We appreciate the dedication and hard work of both teams when working toward this agreement.”
The contract agreement is contingent upon approval by the board of education and ratification by district teachers.
The contract covers professional employees who are required to have a certificate from the Kansas Department of Education.