For four years, teachers in the Wichita School District have gone without pay raises. In contract negotiations Wednesday, that continued to be a point of contention.
This is the seventh time both sides have met this year in an effort to negotiate a new contract. They are divided on many issues.
“All we get are proposals to increase workload, and you're not engaging us in any conversations regarding how we can make thing better,” said Greg Jones of the Kansas National Education Association.
There are several issues being discussed, including teacher salary, dress code and workload. Both sides made headway into how to evaluate teacher's work, but the main issue remains pay raises. The union has asked for a three percent salary increase, step increases and back pay.
“I would think the board of education’s position when we talk about back pay would be more of, thank you employees for what you've sacrificed over the years, as opposed to hey you're being greedy,’” said Jones.
The district says what the teachers want will cost about $48 million. But the union says that number is overinflated. The school district also blames the legislature for pay freezes.
The Wichita School District has trimmed $54 million from its budget in recent years. While the legislature continues to debate education funding, neither side expects much from the governor. So the teacher's union asked for an extra four days off without a further reduction in pay as a sign of appreciation. The district rejected the offer.
“If we gave up those four days, we'd be giving up the ability to really affect change in the classroom,” said Wichita School District representative Tom Powell. The district also argue it indirectly costs the district more money to take the days off.
It's back to the drawing board for now. A teacher's union rep says they'll meet with the district again in two weeks.