Wichita teachers union representatives will return to the contract bargaining table Wednesday, considering an offer that includes a 3 percent raise.
The offer also calls for a return to a longer school year – 190 work days for teachers instead of 175. For the past two years, the district cut 15 days from the calendar and made each school day 30 minutes longer as part of a cost-cutting measure.
Contract talks, which are open to the public, are scheduled for 6-8 p.m. Wednesday at the new Alvin E. Morris Administrative Center (the former Southeast High School), 903 S. Edgemoor.
During the last session Aug. 30, the school district’s team presented what it described as its best and final offer. The offer includes:
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▪ A 3 percent salary increase
▪ One step plus one “catch-up” step on the salary schedule for years of experience
▪ Adjustment on the salary schedule based on additional education, known as tracks
▪ Unfreezing longevity pay, an annual bonus for teachers with at least 14 years in the district. Longevity pay ranges from 3 percent to 12 percent of a teacher’s salary depending on his or her years of experience.
▪ Prohibiting meetings after the school day on election day, and not requiring teachers to report to work on non-teaching duty days if they have their grades submitted.
▪ Dropping portions of the district’s initial proposal, which sought tougher attendance standards for teachers and a requirement that lesson plans follow guidelines from the Marzano teacher evaluation system.
District officials said the price tag of the proposal is about $15.2 million — an amount that has been factored into the district’s $682 million budget.
Steve Wentz, president of United Teachers of Wichita, called the district’s latest offer “a nudge in the right direction,” but said his team still has concerns.
“There are parts of it that are attractive, but … we have some more questions and concerns that we want clarified,” Wentz said.
The district’s budget includes about $28 million in additional state aid from a new school finance formula. In their latest proposal, district officials said they would re-open negotiations if funding increases beyond that by $3 million or more.
Because the annual teachers contract starts Aug. 1, Wichita teachers are working under the terms of last year’s contract until a new one is negotiated and ratified.