Archive for Thursday, August 17, 2006

Teachers to receive 5.1% pay raise

School board also agrees to increase district’s ante on health insurance

August 17, 2006

Teachers in the Lansing school district will receive an average raise of 5.1 percent and those participating in the district's health insurance plan will see more of their premiums picked up by the district.

The moves come as a result of decisions this week by the Lansing School Board.

Board members on Monday unanimously ratified their contract with teachers. The pact was negotiated by members of the board and members of the Lansing Education Association, the teachers' bargaining group. Teachers already had ratified the contract, which covers the 2006-07 school year.

Randal Bagby, the district superintendent, said the contract would boost the base annual salary for a first-year teacher with a bachelor's degree to $32,333, a 4 percent increase over the $31,089 offered to first-year teachers a year ago. Lansing teachers earn "step" increases with longevity and additional education, and those steps bring the average salary increase to 5.1 percent, Bagby said.

In addition to approving the contract, board members also decided to increase the district's contribution to the health insurance plan available to teachers.

District teachers can opt to participate in one of three health insurance plans offered by Humana. Because of a high loss ratio a year ago, premiums were scheduled to increase by 19 percent in the plan year that begins Sept. 1 - an increase ranging from a month for family coverage.

Board members decided to step in and cap the monthly premium to be paid by teachers for the base plan at $40 a month for singles, $310 a month for an employee and child, $380 a month for an employee and spouse and $550 a month for an employee and family.

The district will pitch in similar amounts for teachers who opt for buy-up policies under the plan.

"Whatever we pay for the base plan, we'll also pay for buy-up 1 or buy-up 2," said board member Brian Bode.

Board President Shelly Gowdy said the contributions came at a high cost to the district, but one worth the money if it helped the district retain current teachers and attract new teachers.

"I think this is something that is in our best interests and in the best interests of our employees at this time," she said.

Bagby said the total cost of the increased benefit to the district could not be calculated until the Sept. 1 enrollment deadline had passed. Board members, though, indicated it could be approach $200,000.

Ron Averill, a Lansing Middle School technology instructor, headed the teachers' negotiating team. He could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

In other action Monday, the school board:

¢ Approved minutes from the July 11 meeting, approved bills, reports and accepted several recommendations for hirings and transfers among noncertified staff.

¢ Approved the construction fund report.

¢ Approved applications from out-of-district students to attend Lansing schools.

¢ Scheduled a special meeting for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 22, to consider bids for construction of the new elementary school and high school auditorium.

¢ Approved a board retreat for 9 a.m. Sept. 16 at a venue to be determined by the board president and superintendent.

¢ Approved a joint meeting with the Lansing City Council for 6 p.m. Sept. 11. The meeting precedes the board's regular September monthly meeting.

¢ Approved Beth Stevenson as the board's governmental relations representative to the Kansas Association of School Boards.

¢ Agreed to hire Caren Freeman as the district's New Decisions coordinator. Freeman also will teach two hours of English to at-risk students. The teaching move allows teacher Mary Alice Schroeger to use two hours of her duty day to pursue grants for the school district.

¢ Approved a contract for the lease/purchase of a building in the Lansing Industrial Center for use as the New Beginnings special education cooperative building.

¢ Approved a job share arrangement for elementary and intermediate school nurses Lynne Pippen and Kathi LaMoe.

¢ Accepted a $150 check for the Galen Kelly Scholarship.

¢ Approved a resolution and agreement identifying the Northeast Kansas Technical College in Atchison as an alternative education site for Lansing High School students.

¢ Accepted high bids for a Gravely mower, front loader and cement mixer that had been identified as surplus equipment.

¢ Accepted the resignation of middle school assistant football coach Michael Kroll and assistant high school cheerleading sponsor Sue Lednicky.

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