The Garden City USD 457 Board of Education agreed last month to ratify the 2019-20 negotiated agreement between the district and its teachers.

The agreement was supported by most teachers, said USD 457 financial officer KJ Knoll, with two-thirds of potential voters casting a ballot and more than 90% voting in favor. The final vote was 349 in favor of the agreement and 29 against, she said.

On Aug. 19, the board unanimously voted to approve it. The agreement was created after a negotiation process between Garden City Educators Association members Darla Jackson, Gil Perea, Alex Olinger and Ron Whited, board members Lara Bors and Dana Nanninga, Knoll and deputy superintendent Heath Hogan.

Under the ratified agreement, the district’s salary schedule, including step and column movement, will be maintained for all eligible employees, and retroactive pay increases will be included in the September payroll. The base salary, however, will be increased by $1,500, or an average increase 4.04%, bringing it up to $41,782, Knoll said.

Any increases to health insurance costs will be paid by the board of education, not employees.

The agreement includes an incentive not to miss work. Knoll said employees who use one day or less of leave during the school year (not counting professional development or activity leave days) will receive a $500 bonus in their June paycheck.

Starting this year, up to eight personal days can be carried over to the following year, negating “sell back forms” for staff with eight or fewer days of accrued leave. If employees have more than eight days left at the end of the year, they will still be able to sell the days back to the district or convert them to emergency leave, Knoll said.

Perea said GCEA members went into the negotiation process with three main priorities: compensation, the number of teacher contract days and due process for teachers. He said he thought it was fantastic that the district was now over the $40,000 mark for new teachers and the board would absorb rising costs in employees’ benefits package.

However, he said USD 457 teachers work 10 days more than most regional districts, which is significant to most local educators, especially ones who have worked in USD 457 for several years. Teachers and administrators have still not reached an agreement regarding due process, or long-term, assured job security, for teachers, Perea said.

“My overall feeling is that we have done well in respects to what we have agreed on ... Due process will be always a concern and until we get that into the agreement, I think that we’re going to be fighting for it,” he said.


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