Storm caused $2 million in damage to Wichita school buildings; contract approved between district, SEIU

Wichita schools sustained about $2 million damage from wind and hail during a storm that swept through the city Sunday, district officials said.

During a special school board meeting Thursday, board members authorized up to $2 million for repairs to district properties. All but $250,000 should be reimbursed by the district property insurance, officials said.

Julie Hedrick, director of facilities for the Wichita district, said several schools in northeast Wichita sustained damage to windows, siding, roofs or interior spaces. Schools that got the most damage were Buckner Elementary, L’Ouverture Elementary, Brooks Middle School and the Chester I. Lewis Academic Learning Center.

Roof damage at Brooks caused water to leak into the gymnasium, damaging the floor, she said.

Also on Thursday, board members approved a contract between the school district and its service workers.

The two-year agreement with the Service Employees International Union Local 513 freezes salaries. A new clause would increase pay for service workers “if compensation paid to teachers is increased.”

Union members approved the contract Saturday, said Harold Schlechtweg, chief negotiator for the union. He offered no further comment.

Superintendent John Allison said the district has “had a very collaborative negotiation process with SEIU going on the last couple years.”

“We’ve been able to address some of their concerns and work together, from the dress code to a number of other items … and I hope that continues,” Allison said.

Last year’s contract included a 3.5 percent increase to the salary schedule, as well as raises for additional education, licenses or certificates.

The union’s bargaining unit includes about 1,800 classified school district employees, including custodians, clerical staff, paraprofessionals and food service employees. But the contract it negotiates sets a pattern for another 1,000 employees – basically, any district employee who is not a teacher or administrator.

The tentative contract allows the district to test classified employees for tobacco use as part of its “wellness audits” of about 5 percent of employees. The issue came up recently during teacher contract talks as well.

Talks between the district and United Teachers of Wichita, the local teachers union, continue next week.

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