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Shawnee Mission Schools And Teachers Union Finally Reach Agreement — For This Year, At Least

Elle Moxley
KCUR 89.3
Teachers have packed school board meetings for months to voice complaints about workload and pay.

The Shawnee Mission School District has reached an agreement with the teachers union to move all teachers to the same contract for the current school year.

The agreement was reached Thursday and came after a bitter, months-long dispute over teacher pay and workload that ended with the state stepping in.

"Today's process is an important step forward in the district and the association working together to behalf of our students, our staff, and our community," said Linda Sieck, president of the National Education Association-Shawnee Mission, in a statement released by the district. 

The two sides came together Thursday in addition to a mediator appointed after previous contract talks broke down. 

"This represents the first steps in a process of healing that will allow us to work together for the benefit of our hard-working teachers and the students we serve," Shawnee Mission superintendent Michael Fulton said in the district statement. 

The contract for the 2019-20 is essentially the first year of a three-year contract the school board voted to unilaterally impose over the union's objections last month. The Kansas Department of Labor threw out the final two years of that contract, but about 100 teachers either didn’t sign it or chose to work under the previous contract.

Thursday's agreement mostly affects those 100 teachers. 

Under the new contract, all teachers will get a 1% raise, plus standard increases for education and experience. 

"Today's successful mediation and the commitment to the use of a facilitator for future negotiations were productive steps to support our work together, as we strive to serve the students we are all dedicated to," said school board president Heather Ousley, in a statement. 

Ousley and other board members have faced sharp criticism and, at times, personal attacks during the drawn-out negotiations. Endorsed by the teachers union as a board candidate in 2017, Ousley has faced calls for her ouster as contract talks have become more rancorous. 

Members of the union will vote to ratify the agreement in the coming days. The district says it will use a mediator moving forward.

Elle Moxley is KCUR's education reporter. You can follow her on Twitter @emoxley.

Elle Moxley covered education for KCUR.
Kyle Palmer is the editor of the Shawnee Mission Post, a digital news outlet serving Northeast Johnson County, Kansas. He previously served as KCUR's news director and morning newscaster.
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