Wichita school district, service workers reach tentative contract deal

A tentative contract agreement between the Wichita school district and its service workers includes a one-time, 1 percent salary bonus and health insurance premiums for employees who want “buy-up” plans with lower deductibles, district officials announced Friday.

The school board reached agreement on a 2016-17 salary and benefit package with Service Employees International Union Local 513 and the Uniformed Security Officers and Security Dispatchers groups, officials said.

SEIU’s bargaining unit includes more than 2,000 classified school district employees, including para-educators, custodians, clerical staff and food service employees.

Highlights of the tentative agreement include:

▪ A 1 percent, one-time salary bonus

▪ One step on the salary schedule

▪ Movement on the career ladder if employees are eligible and qualify

▪ An additional $100-per-employee district contribution to the health plan reserve

▪ A base health insurance plan with no premium and the option to purchase “buy up” plans with additional premiums.

“We believe the District has done the best that it can to meet the needs of its employees with the extremely limited resources currently provided by the State of Kansas,” said Esau Freeman, local business representative for the union, in a statement released by the district.

Freeman said school service employees “look forward to a time in Kansas when education will be fully and equitably funded, so that those who selflessly serve and shape our future generations may earn a living wage and adequately provide for their families without working a second or third job.”

Wichita superintendent John Allison said the district was “appreciative of the cooperative spirit” between the school board and union.

SEIU members will vote on this tentative agreement Sept. 7. If that group ratifies it, the school board will vote on final approval.

Last year’s contract froze pay for the district’s service workers and hinted at possible health care cost increases.

Suzanne Perez Tobias: 316-268-6567, @suzannetobias