Teacher salaries unresolved

By BOB JOHNSON
Register City Editor

USD 257 board members and teachers failed to reach agreement on a contract for 2009-10 after three hours of negotiations Wednesday night. They will try again July 9.
After closing LaHarpe Elementary School and making staff and other adjustments, Dr. Craig Neuenswander, superintendent of schools, said the district would have about $182,000 for discretionary spending.
His and board members’ fear is that tax revenue will continue to lag in Topeka and another budget reduction will be ordered. This year’s reduction, when state aid was cut from $4,433 to $4,400, amounted to 2.7 percent of the district budget. The $182,000 would be eaten up by a state aid cut of less than 2 percent. “The governor has warned that may happen,” Neuenswander said.
The next state revenue estimate is due in November.
Board members said they would be willing to fund step movements totaling $54,000 for education and tenure that were in this year’s contract. At the behest of teachers, board members said they would also agree to reduce the school year by two in-service days and dismiss classes 30 minutes early once a week at the elementaries to give teachers more planning time. No action was taken on the schedule change, however.
In addition, teachers are seeking a base pay increase of at least half a percent, which would cost another $20,500. They also asked that pay for non-instructional professional duties be increased from $15 to $17.50 an hour.