Thursday, August 21, 2014

NEA-T and TPS Reach Teacher Contract Agreement

NEA-T and Topeka Public Schools have completed interest based bargaining and reached agreement on a contract for certified staff for the 2014-2015 school year.  Interest based bargaining is a collaborative form of negotiations where both sides look to resolve interests rather than the traditional form of positional bargaining.   Members of NEA-T have ratified the agreement.  The Board of Education took action on the agreement at its August 21 meeting.

The agreement adds $680 to the base salary of certified staff as well as step movement both vertical and horizontal.  Certified staff will see no increase in insurance rates.  “Our health insurance premiums have not increased for four consecutive years,” said Deputy Superintendent Larry Robbins.  “Single coverage health insurance with a $1,000 deductible, prescription drug coverage, dental care and $10,000 in life insurance costs an employee $20 a month.”

The agreement includes enhancements for longevity pay with the intent being to help retain experienced teachers already in the district. “We previously had three levels or intervals for awarding longevity increases.  This agreement increases the number to six levels for different intervals of longevity pay adjustments, with the maximum being $1,000 annually,”said Robbins.  NEA-T representative Richard Bolejack agreed, “As teachers, we feel the district is interested in retaining good, quality, veteran teachers.” 

The Board of Education is interested in both retaining high quality teaching staff and recruiting the best instructional staff available.  By adding $680 to the base, the starting salary for a new teacher graduating from college is now $37,120 per year.

Due process rights were not part of negotiations because it is already included in the professional agreement and has been since the 1990’s according to Bolejack.


Both sides are pleased with how the interest based bargaining process went.  “Teachers across the district are very happy with the agreement that was reached,” said Bolejack.  Robbins said, “I think both sides are happy with the fact that we were able to reach agreement on a package that is mutually beneficial for both the school district and our certified staff.”


Monday, August 18, 2014

District Tests Bullet-Resistant Glass

Student safety is a top priority at Topeka Public Schools, and we have been working to improve security measures since last April's successful bond initiative. This morning, Ron Brown, Director of School Safety, oversaw demonstrations testing the capabilities of different grades of bullet-resistant film at the Topeka Police Department's firing range.
"Our intent was to see a visual demonstration of how the glass works, and make a determination as a district as to whether this is the product we want to purchase. We're trying to be good stewards of taxpayer money because we are going to spend a lot of money on this. We also want to be able to provide first-hand accounts of what we saw to our principals and our PTO's to tell them what the capabilities of this window film are," Brown explained. 
Using old doors and windows from the district, Soward's Glass applied the bullet-resistant film for testing and set up the demonstration.

Brown said, "We don't believe that the glass is going to stop a bullet, but we tell our teachers and principals that the intent is to slow down a potential adversary until the police can arrive. We're hoping that's what today's demonstration will tell us." Brown made reference to the Sandy Hook school shooting, where the gunman was able to enter the school by shooting through the glass foyer doors. Bullet-resistant film would make such an intrusion far less likely and allow schools to enter into lock-down mode and call for help.
The glass was tested with tools typically used to gain entry into a building: a fist and foot (to see if the glass could be punched out), a baseball bat and a log (items commonly used to break glass and easily found near a school), a .9 mm handgun and a .223 gun.

As the pictures illustrate, the bullet-resistant film withstood numerous tests. Brown hopes to move quickly to have it installed at schools throughout the district.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

THS Grad Receives NEA Award

Recent Topeka High School grad Jack Hishmeh received the SuAnn Big Crow Memorial Award at the National Education Association's Human and Civil Rights awards ceremony in Denver last month. Click on the link below to watch the video documenting his incredible accomplishments and gracious acceptance speech.

We are so proud of this young man, and appreciate all he has done for Topeka High School, Topeka Public Schools, and most importantly, his fellow students.

Congratulations, Jack--- you're truly an inspiration!

McClure Hosts Super Hero Leadership Academy

Twenty-six 3rd, 4th and 5th graders at McClure Elementary took part in the school's annual Super Heroes Training Camp. The camp serves as a youth leadership academy for students who want to become role models in their school. 

Superhero trainer Dr. Lloyd Hackley helped students choose a super hero name, design a costume and logo, and learn about real-life super heroes. The students also took part in fitness testing and learned ways they can continue to make McClure a fun and safe place to learn. 

Dr. Hackley was assisted by four soon-to-be TPS high school freshmen, who generously sacrificed their last day of summer break to mentor the kids. 

Working together as an education community is just one more reason Topeka Public Schools is a great place to be!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

School Night for Scouting

The School Night for scouting will be held Thursday, August 28, at 7:00 p.m. at all elementary schools in Topeka Public Schools.