Wichita Public Schools

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service/File photo

Kansas schools are still struggling to hire teachers.

There are more than 600 vacant teaching positions in Kansas, nearly 100 more than in the fall of 2017. Special education and elementary positions have the largest number of vacancies.

The Kansas State Board of Education received the update on Tuesday from the Teacher Vacancy and Supply Committee. The main reason for the open positions is a lack of applicants or qualified applicants.

Bo Rader / Wichita Eagle

About two decades ago the Wichita School Board, disturbed by an increasing number of guns, knives and other weapons being brought to schools, decided to take a hard-line approach:

Zero tolerance.

The board, prompted by the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994, passed a policy mandating that any student caught with a gun — or a realistic-looking replica — on school property or at a school-sponsored event would be expelled for a full year.

No weapons — no questions, no excuses.

file photo / Kansas News Service

Wichita Public School teachers are receiving a more than a 3.5 percent increase in salary. In Topeka, the increase is nearly 8 percent, that district's largest in 26 years.

School districts across Kansas are raising salaries, restoring cut positions and adding new jobs.

Stephan Bisaha / KMUW

Wichita Public Schools will soon start another school year with a shortage of substitute teachers.

While the school district has fewer vacant teaching jobs this year, long-term substitutes will fill some of the remaining positions. That takes more substitutes out of the already small pool used to cover absent teachers.

When a substitute isn’t available to cover a class, those students are spread among other classrooms for the day, overloading the class sizes for some teachers.

Stephan Bisaha / KMUW

Wichita Public Schools welcomed hundreds of new teachers to the district at a new staff orientation Thursday morning.

The new teachers were greeted at Wichita Northwest High School with cheerleaders, a photo booth and a marching band.

“I am very excited to be starting the school year,” said Mike Flaigle, who will teach sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade math at Horace Mann Dual Language Magnet.

The number of vacant teaching positions in the district has been cut in half, from more than 100 last year to 54 this year.

KMUW/File photo

A 3.65 percent raise would be in store for Wichita teachers under a tentative agreement between the Wichita Board of Education and the local teachers union.

The tentative agreement for the 2018-19 school year includes a compensation package valued at 4.85 percent.

This is the first time in years that the United Teachers of Wichita and the board have reached an agreement before the start of the school year. Last year’s negotiation extended into November.

Stephan Bisaha / KMUW

Wichita’s school board heard the first draft of the district’s $686 million budget Monday night.

The new budget represents an increase of $43 million over last year's budget. Of the new money, $25 million is locked in for funds like KPERS while the remaining $18 million exists in the more flexible general, supplemental and weighted funds.

The main driver of the larger budget is increased state aid. Higher property values also helped. The mill levy rate is also being lowered with the new budget.

The increased funding is a break from years of shrinking budgets.

Stephan Bisaha / KMUW

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. 

Historic Bremen / flickr Creative Commons

Wichita Public Schools is expanding its credit recovery options for high school students struggling to earn enough credits to graduate.

Learning centers will be available for ninth- through 12th-grade students at each of the district’s comprehensive high schools in the fall. High school students will be able to use the centers to make up credits by taking a credit recovery course instead of an elective.

Stephan Bisaha / KMUW

Some Wichita residents are upset about fences being erected around elementary school playgrounds.

The fences were approved last May during a Board of Education meeting. Fences are to go up around the playgrounds at all of the district’s elementary schools.

During Monday’s school board meeting, members cited the safety of children as the reason for the fencing, with $230,000 dedicated to the project set to be finished before the end of the year.

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