OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The Shawnee Mission School District unilaterally approved a new three-year contract for its teachers Thursday night, ending one chapter of a battle with its teachers' union but setting up another fight.
The SMSD Board of Education voted 6-1 to adopt the contract. Teachers have been working under terms of an expired deal this school year.
The new deal, which includes this year as well as the 2020-21 and 2021-22 schools years, guarantees teachers raises of 1% for 2019-20, 1.25% next year and 1.5% in the final year of the contract.
Those terms are identical to terms delivered Tuesday by the board and also commits 79% of all new money received from the state to teachers moving forward.
Additionally, the board will "begin phasing in adjustments to secondary staff teaching workload beginning with the 2021-2022 school year" but said it won't "risk the district’s long-term financial stability," the district in a recap of the meeting.
Before Thursday's meeting, teachers rallied against the proposal, arguing that such unilateral approval ignores union concerns outside of a the district's offer of a 1% pay increase, like work conditions.
"I think the Board of Education with their vote of 6-to-1 is trying to bust the union," NEA for Shawnee Mission President Linda Sieck said after the meeting. "They are not interested in hearing teachers concerns."
According to the board, the contract "gives the board certainty which allows for research and planning." It said there are already studies underway to address staff collaboration and planning time, manage enrollment projections and determine facility needs.
"Information from these studies will be combined and a fiscally responsible plan developed to address issues of workload, class size, and bond issue priorities," the district said, promising to deliver recommendations and a timeline for implementing them by June.
The board's move comes after months of contract negotiations between the district and union failed to reach an agreement, and a report by a state fact-finder who listened to arguments from both sides.
The Board followed the recommendations of the state fact-finder, according to its board recap.
Teachers have been pushing for a 1.5% pay raise, because of additional state funding Shawnee Mission public schools will be receiving.
The Shawnee Mission School District spokesman, David Smith, told 41 Action news after the vote teachers have three choices — accept the new contract, continue to work under last year’s contract or resign
Sieck told 41 Action News the union will challenge the three-year unilateral contract in court.