Archive for Thursday, August 25, 2005

Lansing teachers get 5.4 percent pay raise

August 25, 2005

A renegotiated contract gives teachers in the Lansing School District a 5.4 percent increase in pay over last year and introduces increased benefits.

The contract was ratified Monday by the Lansing School Board. Teachers had ratified the agreement earlier.

The agreement was renegotiated when the Kansas Legislature appropriated additional funds to the district after its special session in July. The original contract, agreed upon in June, said that negotiations between the Lansing Educators Association and the board would reopen if the district received additional state aid.

The new salary schedule increases the base pay for a first-year teacher to $31,089, up $1,339 from last year. The 5.4 percent raise in salaries is up 1 percent from the negotiated 4.4 percent increase negotiated earlier this summer.

"I would venture to say that most teachers are very pleased with the new schedule," LEA president Ginny Scott said. She said the board showed during the negotiations that it was conscious of teachers' needs.

Though the board is increasing pay in an attempt to stay competitive now and in the future, Scott said it was hard to gauge exactly how the district compared with others in the area with its new salary schedule.

Schools superintendent Randal Bagby said as far as he could tell, the district's salary schedule has been competitive, but the benefits package has been lacking. He said the new benefits added put the district "well on our way to being competitive" to retain and attract quality teachers.

One of the benefits included in the new agreement is larger district contribution to the health insurance plan. This year, the district will make monthly contributions of $300 for singles, $500 for employee-spouse or employee-children plans, and $700 for families. Last year, the district made monthly contributions of $150 for singles and $242 for all other plans.

Although the cost of the district's health insurance increased 24 percent this year, school board president Brian Bode said the district's increased contributions more than offset the increase for employees. Teachers will pay less out-of-pocket for the insurance this year, he said.

Scott said the extra money that the board was putting toward health insurance was "a real boon for a lot of us."

The district's goal in increasing health insurance benefits was to get more people to join so that in the future it can get better rates with higher participation, Bagby said. So far, 23 additional employees have signed up for the district's health insurance. Now, 89 out of about 220 employees are using the district's health insurance plan, board clerk Doniaell Brandt said.

Friday, Aug. 26, is the last day this year for employees to sign up for the district's insurance.

A new benefit included in this year's contract waives lab, class and textbook fees for all children in teachers' families. Ron Averill, lead negotiator for the LEA, said the board offered that benefit. He said the board gave figures of about $50 per child in textbook fees. Although the savings isn't huge, the action behind it was, he said.

"To see the school board just doing these little, extra things to make it more comfortable for district employees means a lot," Averill said.

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