After negotiations break off, school board stresses need to be ‘fiscally responsible to community,’ teachers say voices are being silenced

The Shawnee Mission Board of Education will move forward with consideration of a unilateral contract agreement in the coming days. That decision has prompted strong pushback from the teachers union.

Hours after the attorney representing the district walked away from the table of the final bi-lateral negotiations in a state-mandated process, the Shawnee Mission Board of Education released a statement on the outcome of Tuesday’s session saying it was committed to providing fair pay to teachers “while being fiscally responsible to the community.”

The National Education Association-Shawnee Mission posted a statement of its own a few hours later, saying that the district’s idea of passing a three-year unilateral contract was an “attempt to silence teachers’ voices.”

Both statements are below.

On Wednesday morning, the district issued official notice that the board of education would convene for a special meeting on Thursday evening at 6 p.m. The board will immediately go into an executive session “to discuss negotiations pursuant to the exception for employer-employee negotiations under Kansas Open Meetings Act.”

SMSD board of education statement

Here’s the statement from the Shawnee Mission Board of Education:

The Board of Education is committed to providing teachers with a compensation package that fairly compensates them for the hard work they do each and every day. The Board has put forward a three-year proposal which commits 79% of all new money from the state to salary increases. The Board is also committed to developing a fiscally responsible, sustainable plan that reduces the work-load for teachers and addresses time for planning and collaboration.

As a part of this commitment, the Board will receive recommendations and adopt a plan to address workload and time for planning and collaboration no later than June, 2020. This commitment has been publicly stated and emphasized. While the Board is disappointed that the district was unable to reach agreement with NEA-SM, it remains committed to providing teachers with a fair and equitable contract, while being fiscally responsible to the community.

The district’s final offer was based on recommendations made in the Fact Finding report. The Fact Finding report is the result of an independent review by a neutral fact-finder, who gathered information and testimony from the district and NEA-SM. The report states:

“The Fact Finder agrees with the District that the NEA-SM proposal is overly aggressive to meet reasonable budget objectives of the District, including deficit spending and the creation of a sub-standard fund balance – and contrary to the overall public Interests.” (p. 55)

The district offered a three-year proposal that included an average total compensation increase of 3.22% in year one, 3.65% in year two, and 4.13% in year three. Included in that average is coverage of health care increases up to 7.8% for each year. The entire offer can be seen here.

As part of fulfilling the Board’s commitment to addressing workload issues along with teacher planning and collaboration time, the district is currently engaged in several studies. These include studies of:

  • Teacher planning and collaboration time,
  • Five-year enrollment projections,
  • Building capacities,
  • Long-term bonding capacity; and
  • Ways to responsibly and sustainably fund the estimated $5 million in annual additional expenses associated with addressing teacher workload and planning collaboration time.

The district will need to develop a plan to balance covering this annual cost, while at the same time guaranteeing competitive raises for teachers and other staff.

To address these issues, information from the studies referenced above will be brought together and a plan developed, which will address a range of issues, including class sizes, a potential future bond referendum, and addressing teacher workload. As part of that planning process, the district will develop a long-term fiscal strategy that addresses teacher workload in ways that can be sustained over time. Again, the Board anticipates receiving recommendations from the superintendent on these issues no later than June, 2020.

NEA-Shawnee Mission Statement

And here’s the statement posted on Facebook by the NEA-Shawnee Mission for its members:

DISTRICT’S MOVE IS AN ATTEMPT TO SILENCE TEACHERS’ VOICES

The NEA Shawnee Mission Bargaining Team met with the district’s lawyer from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Ultimately, the Board of Education chose to suspend negotiations and impose a three-year unilateral contract.

NEA Shawnee Mission’s last comments were:

“If the Board chooses to issue a three-year unilateral contract, certified staff members have three options:

1. Sign the three-year unilateral contract
2. Stack the three-year unilateral contract and continue
working under the 2018-19 contract
3. Resign from the district without penalty upon the Board
voting on the three-year unilateral contract

Upon consultation with KNEA legal, we may be challenging the legality of a three-year unilateral contract in district court.

After nearly $20,000 in fact finding costs, it is clear the Board prefers paying attorneys more than paying teachers.

The fact finder’s recommendations were directed for the 2019-20 contract negotiations.

A three-year unilateral contract will destroy the relationship between the teachers and the district. Think what lies ahead – the implementation of the strategic plan and a potential future bond initiative. The Board is sending a clear message to our community that it does not respect the voice of the teachers in this district.

In April, the Board offered a 1% raise and that is what they are clinging to now. They are willing to risk it all for a difference of about $500,000. The Board continually has asked us to lower our salary proposal yet the Board refuses to move at all.”

Until the team sees the unilateral contract, we cannot answer specific questions. Once we have that information, we will have information sessions to explain your options and answer questions.

The team knows you will have three options to make within fifteen (15) days of issuance of the unilateral contract.

1. Sign the three-year unilateral contract
2. Stack the three-year unilateral contract and continue working under the 2018-19 contract
3. Resign from the district without penalty upon the Board voting on the three-year unilateral contract

NEA Shawnee Mission will be preparing a notice letter for 2020-21 for those members of the bargaining unit who stack their contract.

What the NEA SM team needs from you:

**Show Up, Stand Up and Speak Up every chance you get!
**Work the contract!