Archive for Thursday, June 5, 2003

Teachers offered 3-percent raise

June 5, 2003

De Soto USD 232 and its teachers have negotiated a tentative agreement that would provide teachers with a 3-percent across-the-board salary increase for the 2003-2004 school year.

The two sides must agree on the contract's final language before mailing it to members of the De Soto Teachers Association for a ratification vote.

While informing the Board of the tentative agreement Monday, Assistant Superintendent Bill Gilhaus said negotiations went "very, very well." Teachers understood the cuts in state educational aid the Legislature made in response to the state's budget shortfall didn't give the district much money to spend, he said.

"The issue wasn't for more that 3 percent; it was how to distribute that 3 percent," Gilhaus said. "After hours of discussions, they decided across the board was the best way."

The contract would probably be sent to De Soto Teachers Association members in three weeks, association President Ed Wilcox said. He predicted, somewhat hesitantly, teachers would ratify the contract.

"I think they will," he said. "It's what they're getting in schools around us.

"Until the state decides what they're going to do and how they are going to fund education, I'm not sure what else you can expect."

Two years ago, the district and teachers agreed on a two-year contract that raised compensation 8 percent for both the 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 school years. Board member Sandy Thierer, who served on the district's negotiation team, said the tentative contract would allow the district to maintain the competitive gains made two years ago within the realities of the state budget shortfall.

"When we looked at salaries, we found we are now number three in Johnson County (behind the Blue Valley and Shawnee Mission school districts)," she said. "We were close to the bottom when I started on the Board."

Thierer and Deputy Superintendent Sharon Zoellner said the proposed 3-percent increase was in line with what other districts in the county were offering.

In addition to the across-the-board increase, the contract would raise the district's base pay 1.5 percent from $30,240 to $30,694, Gilhaus said. Other provisions in the contract would increase extra duty paid by the event, such as working the score clock at basketball games, by 20 percent, or those paid by the hour.

The contract also adjusted categories of coaches and sponsorships and added new assistant positions in debate and cross country, primarily out of safety concerns from one person supervising large numbers of students, Gilhaus said.

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