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SMSD teachers walk in solidarity after no agreement on teacher contract

SMD teachers protest.jpg
Posted at 3:10 PM, Oct 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-18 16:56:49-04

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Negotiations continue between the Shawnee Mission School District and the National Education Association - Shawnee Mission teachers union over a new contract.

Teachers currently are working under last school year’s contract because the two sides have not been able to come to an agreement.

That’s one of the reasons a group of students and teachers gathered Friday morning in front of Brookridge Elementary to hold a solidarity walk.

With two months into the new school year and no new contract, SMSD teacher Aleen Edge said it’s frustrating.

“We don't feel valued as teachers,” Edge said. “You know, we don't feel respected by the board. We just feel that we give, give, give to the kids and we don't get any feelings back that we're appreciated.”

Earlier this year, the state allocated the district $9.8 million.

The teachers union states that more of that money needs to go toward salaries.

The district disagrees, stating that those funds should make up lost revenue from the past decade. They also are looking to add more positions to their staff.

Edge said teacher retention is just as critical and that higher raises and smaller classrooms would be a benefit to all.

“The needs of students are greater every single year,” Edge said, “and we need smaller classes to address all those. The emotional needs, the bullying, the suicide. You know, we as teachers are so worn out from giving, giving, giving that we just need smaller groups to work with so we can accurately do a good job helping all those students.”

Some students, like fourth grader Lukas Starforth, said he stood in solidarity on Friday to show appreciation for his teachers.

“We have good teachers and they support us and now it’s time for grownups in Shawnee Mission to support them,” Starforth said.

SMSD Chief Communications Officer David Smith said the district "strongly supports its teachers and certified staff."

"Once we have come to agreement on a contract, we look forward to working with all our staff to ensure that each student has a personalized learning plan that supports them in being college and career ready and having the interpersonal skills important to life success,” Smith said.