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.”