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Shawnee Mission students walk out in protest of new teacher contract

Shawnee Mission students protest teacher contract
Shawnee Mission walkout teacher contract
Posted at 12:22 PM, Jan 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-31 21:38:01-05

SHAWNEE, Kan. — Hundreds of students in the Shawnee Mission School District walked out on Friday to protest a new contract for teachers approved by the Board of Education.

The students, who gathered outside several SMSD schools at 11 a.m., said they don’t agree with the unilateral contract, which the board approved on a 6-1 vote Thursday. At Shawnee Mission Northwest, students held up signs that read “teachers matter” and “pay my teacher” while they chanted “we love teachers” and “red for ed.”

"We really do care about our teachers and we want it to be shown," Shawnee Mission Northwest senior Natalie Hole told 41 Action News.

"They do so much work for us and they're not getting compensated fairly. They're not getting what they deserve," senior Eliza Kidder added.

The new three-year contract approved by the board guarantees 1% raises for teachers this year, 1.25% next year, and 1.5% in the final year. The board’s decision came after months of negotiations between the district and the teachers’ union failed to result in an agreement.

The board said on Thursday that the contract followed the recommendations of a state fact-finder.

"We think it's a contract that once teachers get a chance to see it, they'll feel like it's fair," David Smith, the chief communications officer for the school district, said Friday. "They're getting 79% of all the new money over those three years."

Before Thursday’s meeting, teachers rallied against the proposal and said the contract ignores union concerns, such as work conditions, outside of the pay increase proposal.

Teachers also were pushing for a 1.5% pay raise because of additional state funding that Shawnee Mission public schools will be receiving.

"It's disturbing, and people in our community should be deeply concerned about how our school board is making decisions," said Linda Sieck, president of NEA for Shawnee Mission.

Shawnee Mission public school teachers had been working under the terms of last year’s contract. They now have 15 days to decide whether to accept the new contract, work under last year’s contract or resign, according to Smith.