District administration, Shawnee Mission NEA at odds over teachers’ request for 1% raise

Kenny Southwick is leading the negotiations team for the district administration again this year. File photo.

Negotiating teams from the Shawnee Mission administration and the local chapter of the National Education Association could not find ground to move forward on a compensation package as part of a contract for the coming school year during a short negotiating session yesterday.

Three weeks after the parties broke from their last negotiating session, neither the teachers nor the administration on Tuesday said they could move from the positions they last had on the table.

Teachers had initially requested a 2 percent raise at the June sessions, and then dropped that request to a 1 percent raise. The administration’s position is that there is not money in the budget to accommodate any base increase this year.

NEA-Shawnee Mission President Linda Sieck said the union believes the district has the resources to fund the approximately $1.7 million it would cost for a 1 percent across-the-board base salary increase for teachers.

The district’s position is that it does not have the finances to commit to a base salary increase this year. Though Shawnee Mission will see an additional $4.3 million in state funding for 2018-19, it’s facing a number of increased costs, including staffing the new Lenexa Hills Elementary school, and rising healthcare premiums, utilities and transportation costs. Step-and-column movement along the salary schedule for the coming year was estimated to cost $2.8 million in budget figures presented to the board of education in May.

But, says Sieck, the union believes there are buckets of funding in the budget that could be allocated to increased teacher pay.

“Our stance is that there is money,” Sieck said. “Their own unencumbered balances show there is money in accounts.”

The parties have their next negotiating session scheduled for August 9. The teachers said they wanted the board of education to have a chance to weigh in on the negotiations in an executive session at Monday’s board of education meeting.

“We are kind of stalled right now on salary,” said Sieck. “Both sides have kind of dug in their heels and said they really can’t move. But we have not declared impasse yet.”