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Education

Wichita School Board, Teachers Union Head To Next Phase Of Contract Negotiations

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Wichita Public Schools
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A day of mediation earlier this week between the Wichita School Board and local teachers union over new teacher contracts was unsuccessful.

The school board’s negotiation team says it’s “disappointed” that federal mediators couldn’t bring the two sides to an agreement.

The Board raised its offer to a 4 percent pay increase with one salary step. United Teachers of Wichita is asking for a 4 percent increase but with two salary steps.

“The truth is, we, at least from our side, don’t believe we’re that far apart," says Union President Steve Wentz.

Wentz says the district can put more money toward teacher compensation.

“The money’s there," he says. "It’s not an endless pit, but there’s money there that they could use to give a little bit more than what they’re offering.”

For the next step in negotiations, the state Secretary of Labor will appoint a panel to meet with both sides and recommend a resolution.

Wentz says he’s hopeful negotiators can reach an agreement before then.

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Follow Nadya Faulx on Twitter @NadyaFaulx.

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