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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Teachers union, Wichita school district to discuss contract with mediator July 23

By Suzanne Perez Tobias
The Wichita Eagle

Representatives of the Wichita school district and United Teachers of Wichita will resume contract negotiations with a federal mediator on July 23, district officials said Wednesday.

The closed-door session was scheduled “at the request of the mediator,” district spokeswoman Wendy Johnson said in an e-mail.

“Information will be shared as it becomes available following the July 23 meeting,” Johnson said. “Until that time there will be no additional comments about the status of negotiations.”

Contract negotiations between the school district and the union that represents its 4,000 teachers broke down last month. A two-day meeting with a federal mediator earlier this month did not yield a contract agreement.

Several teachers addressed the Wichita school board Monday — and about 150 rallied outside North High School before the meeting — to lobby for better working conditions and an end to a four-year salary freeze.

The union had been seeking a 3 percent salary increase and a return to raises — plus back pay — for additional education or experience, known as steps and tracks. It also seeks fewer professional development days.

Tom Powell, general counsel and head negotiator for the district, said an analysis by the district’s budget office shows that the union’s total proposal would cost the district about $48 million in salaries and benefits and another $32 million in indirect costs.

Reach Suzanne Perez Tobias at 316-268-6567 or

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