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Shawnee Mission Schools And Teachers At Salary Impasse

The Shawnee Mission School District and its teachers were unable Wednesday to reach a deal on compensation, so the talks will now go to a federal mediator, according to the teachers union.

The negotiations fell apart when the union asked for a $1,350 stipend for teachers who won't get a raise next year as they progress through the salary schedule.

“Most people who go to work and work hard like to see some sort of increase to keep up, in the very least, with the cost of living,” says union president Linda Sieck.

The collapse of the talks comes on the heels of news of  a 9.5 percent raise for Superintendent Jim Hinson. His salary will go from $232,280 to $254,280 a year. He also gets a $1,000 a month car allowance.

Two other administrators also got big raises. Deputy Superintendent Kenny Southwick, the district's CFO, received a 15 percent pay hike from $169,500 to $195,500. Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Leadership Michelle Hubbard pay jumped almost 9 percent from $164,076 to $178,576.

Those contracts were approved by the board several months ago but just came to light in the past week.

Sieck says she doesn't begrudge the administrators' high salaries. She praises their work and how dedicated they are to the district. But, she says, it's hard to see their salaries go up so much at a time the district says funds are tight. 

“Our teachers work hard. They take on larger and larger roles and it just gets frustrating that year after year, that the place that is told 'no' is with talks with teachers,” she says.

The two sides are less than $250,000 apart, according to the union.

The district said in a statement that talks were "productive" and the negotiations "resulted in three signed tentative agreements."

"The district remains hopeful that through the process a successful agreement may be reached," the statement said.

Sam Zeff covers education for KCUR. He's also co-host of KCUR's political podcast Statehouse Blend. Follow him on Twitter @samzeff.

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