Teachers approve 2006-07 contract
De Soto USD 232 teachers approved new contracts last week, bringing an overall increase of 4.2 percent to the salary schedule.
The salary schedule puts teachers with no experience and a bachelor's degree at a starting salary of $34,300; those with more experience or educational background would get a higher level within the pay scale.
Justin Love, De Soto High School band instructor and president of the De Soto Teacher's Association, said the administrators were supportive throughout the negotiations.
"We're always looking to get as much as we can," he said. "Negotiations are always a process. What we presented to them was overwhelmingly supported."
This year, negotiations had to wait for the Kansas Supreme Court to rule on the Legislature's new method of funding Kansas schools. Once the court dismissed the lawsuit, districts had little time to negotiate with their teachers and submit a budget on time. De Soto was able to agree on a tentative increase with negotiators in time to submit their budget to be published, but the teachers didn't officially approve the increase until Friday.
Justin Bogart, the Mill Valley teacher on the union's negotiation team, said the teachers were mostly pleased with the salary schedule.
"We are very competitive with our base salary for first-year teachers," he said. "We remain so for the first five years in the bachelor's columns. Our starting master's salary is very competitive, if not better than some districts in the county."
Bogart and Love said they had talked with administrators about the need to increase pay for longtime, experienced teachers in the district.
Because of the district's recent rapid growth, there are 87 new teachers in the De Soto district.
District director of communications Alvie Cater said some of those teachers were filling positions and some were new.
"Out of those new teachers, there are 39 new positions created by the growth in population," he said. "Those positions are all over the district."
The district expects between 360 and 400 new students this year. The official enrollment count will be Sept. 20.
Love said the De Soto district has a history of working well with its teachers to negotiate reasonable contracts, even with this year's difficulty in waiting for the courts to rule on Kansas school finance.