Shawnee Mission School District in Mediation Over Teacher Pay
Negotiations over teacher contracts have reached a standstill with the Shawnee Mission School District in Kansas, prompting a move into mediation. Representatives from the NEA of Shawnee Mission are optimistic that the mediation process will be a successful one and that mediation it is a step in the right direction, since notice was filed last month with the Kansas Department of Labor that the negotiations were not progressing.
A mediator from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service met with both sides last week to hear details about the dispute over teacher salary that has been ongoing for several years between the two sides. Carl Tideman, the school board’s attorney and lead negotiator for the Shawnee Mission School District, states, “I felt like the negotiations all year were exceptionally civil and, you know, from the district’s standpoint, I have absolutely no complaint whatsoever with how the negotiations have taken place.”
The main point of dispute revolves around requests for salary raises for all teachers in the district. According to Tideman, the school board is unable to provide the raises due to severe budget constraints. He underscores that the district has received several cuts in state funding over the past several years, making it difficult to facilitate the requested raises.
However, NEA president of the executive board, Nancy Fritz, has stated that teachers must survive, too. “Cost of living’s going up every year, so their bang for their buck is not what it used to be. I think both sides understand where each party’s coming from and we respect where each party’s coming from, but … that doesn’t mean we’re willing to give yet.”