Steve Wentz, president of United Teachers of Wichita, said 77 percent of teachers voted to ratify the contract. Wichita Eagle File photo
Steve Wentz, president of United Teachers of Wichita, said 77 percent of teachers voted to ratify the contract. Wichita Eagle File photo

Education

Wichita teachers say yes to raises, longer school year

By Suzanne Perez Tobias

stobias@wichitaeagle.com

November 14, 2017 05:59 PM

UPDATED November 15, 2017 09:29 AM

Wichita teachers have approved a tentative contract that will raise teacher pay by nearly 4 percent and reinstate shorter school days.

Of the 2,875 votes returned to the United Teachers of Wichita office Tuesday afternoon, 77 percent voted to accept the contract, said Steve Wentz, president of United Teachers of Wichita.

The Wichita school board will gather for a special meeting Friday, when they are expected to approve the contract.

In a statement Tuesday, Wichita superintendent Alicia Thompson said she was “pleased to learn” that teachers had voted in favor of the agreement.

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“Recruitment and retention of staff through compensation has been our top priority this year,” Thompson said. “I’m pleased we will be able to honor our dedicated teachers with this well-deserved salary increase prior to the holidays.”

Wentz, the union leader, said he would have an official statement after the contract is finalized Friday.

District and union officials announced terms of the tentative contract earlier this month. They include:

▪ A 3.95 percent across-the-board increase to the salary schedule.

▪ A return to the district’s previous calendar, with 15 more school days. Each day would be 30 minutes shorter. Schools would maintain an added recess period, additional plan time and an extended winter break.

▪ One step plus one “catch-up” step on the salary schedule for years of experience.

▪ Adjustment on the salary schedule based on additional education, known as tracks.

▪ Longevity bonuses for teachers who qualify for them.

The tentative agreement comes after several months of heated negotiations that required help from a federal mediator. In recent weeks, union leaders took to social media to decry what they said was the school board’s lack of commitment to teachers.

Wichita teachers union leader blasts district officials

The leader of the Wichita teachers union blasted district officials Friday for their recent decision to create a new administrative position, saying the move is ill-timed and insensitive to teachers.

Suzanne Perez Tobias: 316-268-6567, @suzannetobias