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Wichita teachers get raises, keep right to remove unruly students under tentative deal

Kasey Curmode, a second-grade teacher at Enterprise Elementary in Wichita, helps lead a social-emotional learning lesson during a summer school program.
Suzanne Perez
The Wichita school district has reached a tentative contract deal with its teachers union.

The tentative two-year contract would raise teacher pay by 4.85% the first year and 5% the second year.

The Wichita school district has reached a tentative contract agreement with the local teachers union, keeping a controversial provision that allows teachers to remove disruptive students from class.

The tentative two-year deal would raise teacher pay by 4.85% the first year and 5% the second year.

The district has asked to reopen negotiations next year if enrollment drops by at least 2% or if per-pupil state funding goes down.

Teachers would keep their current health insurance plans and premiums under the tentative deal. They would make an additional $30 an hour for covering another teacher’s classroom — up to a maximum of $60 a day.

Teachers will vote on the contract in early August. If they ratify it, it would go to the Wichita school board for final approval.

The contract covers about 4,000 teachers, counselors, school nurses and other certified staff.

The deal comes after negotiations that began in March broke down and required help from a federal mediator.

Union leaders pushed to keep a provision in the current contract that allows teachers to send a student to the principal’s office for up to a half-day if the student is “substantially disrupting the instructional program to the detriment of other pupils.”

District officials wanted to limit that ability, saying the practice could run afoul of federal special-education guidelines.

The union also lobbied to increase pay and planning time for special-education teachers. That didn’t make it into the tentative deal, but union leaders said in an email that they “will continue to fight at the capital for fully funded special-education to increase resources available to our district.”

Under the tentative deal, the starting salary for a new teacher in the Wichita district would be $47,736. That would increase to $50,123 the second year.

In an emailed statement, Wichita school board president Sheril Logan said investing in staff is a district priority.

“We want to thank the teams for their work on behalf of the certified staff members who inspire and educate Wichita students each day,” she said.

Suzanne Perez is a longtime journalist covering education and general news for KMUW and the Kansas News Service. Suzanne reviews new books for KMUW and is the co-host with Beth Golay of the Books & Whatnot podcast. Follow her on Twitter @SuzPerezICT.
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