Topeka Public Schools and NEA-T approve teacher contract agreement

TOPEKA (KSNT) — The National Education Association – Topeka and Topeka Public Schools have reached an agreement on a contract for certified staff for the 2015-2016 school year.

The agreement adjusts base salary for all employees, so a starting teacher’s base salary will now be $37,500. Topeka Public Schools says that, with this, it “continues to offer the highest base salary/benefits package for first year teachers in Shawnee county.”

The agreement allows for step movement on the salary schedule, increases some certified addendums, adds or creates a new addendum that supports the district’s emphasis on early childhood education, and jointly agrees to some contractual language changes.

The two parties also agreed upon language that maintains teachers’ due process rights and gives them three insurance plans to choose from instead of one. Topeka Public Schools says this is to offset the rising cost of health insurance.

NEA-T members approved the contract earlier this week, while the Board of Education approved the contract unanimously on Thursday night.

The interest based bargaining that the two parties were engaged in is a collaborative form of negotiations where both sides seek to resolve interests, as opposed to traditional positioning bargaining.

Both sides say they are pleased with how the bargaining went.

Both sides say they are pleased with how the bargaining process went. NEA-T president Stephanie Harsin said, “In tough financial times, teachers are working harder than ever and we’re happy to work with the district for a compensation package that rewards hard work and dedication to our students.” Topeka Public Schools Deputy Superintendent Larry Robbins said, “[The District] is very happy, given the current financial situation with reduced funding from the state, that we’re still in a position to offer classroom teachers a much deserved salary increase.”

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