Archive for Thursday, July 16, 2009

Teachers, board begin contract talks

July 16, 2009

The Eudora National Education Association and representatives from Eudora USD 491 Board of Education on Monday met for the first round of 2009-2010 contract negotiations.

The groups had informal meetings during the last few months to hash out various topics. However, they had held off on a formal meeting because they wanted to get a clearer picture of what was going to happen with the state’s finances.

In the last legislative session, lawmakers cut state aid to public schools by $80.4 million, or 2.4 percent.

On July 2, Gov. Mark Parkinson further cut state aid to public schools by $39.1 million, or about 2 percent. Further cuts still could be made later in the year.

The two sides were able to agree on the forming of a teacher mentoring committee that would work with the board to select mentors for new teachers. They also agreed upon a change in language for the leave policy.

They were, however, unable to come to an agreement on salary. Early in negotiations, the board proposed a salary freeze, while the ENEA proposed a $400 increase for all teachers. The board’s final offer was raises for both experience and education, but not a $400 raise for all teachers.

ENEA members asked if the raise would be “made up” in next year’s contract. But the board was hesitant to make any promises about the future because it didn’t know what the future might hold.

The issue of salary was further exacerbated by a possible 32 percent increase in health insurance costs.

The district’s benefits committee will meet Friday to discuss other insurance carriers.

The ENEA ultimately said it would take the offer back to the teachers.

The two sides set a tentative meeting time of 2 p.m. Wednesday to try to come to an agreement.

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