In negotiations with the local teachers union, Wichita Public Schools is offering a compensation package for teachers representing a 4.7 percent increase. That would be an additional $2,350 for the average teacher's salary.
The increase is possible because of additional funding granted to schools by the Kansas Legislature.
Insurance premiums also will not go up this year, another boon for teachers’ paychecks. Susan Willis, the district’s chief financial officer, said the school board is committed to investing in staff.
“It’s imperative and it’s a top BOE priority — period,” Willis said.
Representatives for the union were pleased and seemed surprised by the offer authorized by the school board.
"Everyone agrees, and the board does too, that it doesn’t get us back to where we need to be but we’re definitely headed in the right direction, and I’m very appreciative of the boards effort,” said Steve Wentz, president of the union.
Wentz says the two sides are close to a tentative agreement, but the union is still trying to get more for teachers who went through years of pay freezes.
“The sad truth is that there’s a chunk of teachers in Wichita that will never get some of that compensation they lost back,” Wentz said. "We’re working hard to try alleviate some of that."
Correction: The original story described the 4.7 percent increase as a salary increase and not as a compensation package. Teachers at different levels will see different changes to their salaries.
Stephan Bisaha is an education reporter for KMUW and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KMUW, Kansas Public Radio, KCUR and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. Follow him on Twitter @SteveBisaha.
Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to the original post. To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.