WICHITA, Kan - It appears that Wichita teachers will have a new contract when they begin a new school year this month.
The board of education for USD 259 and the United Teachers of Wichita announced a tentative agreement Wednesday on a one-year agreement that includes a base salary increase of 3.65 percent. The deal also provides one step for teachers who are eligible to advance, longevity payments for veteran teachers, and no changes to the employee health program or premiums. The total compensation package is valued at 4.85 percent.
The agreement also includes an additional day and a half for special education teachers to complete required paperwork, and there will be two new peer consultants to coach and support first year teachers.
Board president Sheril Logan said the teams were able to collaborate and problem-solve to reach a tentative agreement before the school year begins, something that hasn't happened in several years. UTW president Steve Wentz said the agreement shows what happens when there is listening along with talking in the contract negotiations. He said he wants to continue talks with the district to resolve salary issues for teachers who have been with the district for 12 to 14 years or more.
Wichita school superintendent Alicia Thompson said the agreement works with the district's strategic plan, and she said investing in staff is one of the most important ways to empower students to dream, believe and achieve. Dr. Thompson said "As we prepare to welcome nearly 500 new teachers to our district tomorrow (Thursday), having a tentative agreement before the school year begins is such an uplifting position to be in."
UTW members will vote on the agreement on August 13th and 14th. If it is ratified, the agreement will go to the school board at their August 27th meeting.