GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KSNW)- Increased funding from the state is a rare sign of good news for many school districts.
In an effort to lure and keep teachers in Garden City, the school board gave a sizeable pay increase — the first in years.
More money from Topeka meant teachers could negotiate for more, and the district had more to give.
“Other than we had to wait for Topeka to get us information, I think it was very successful,” said Roni Knight, a Garden City teacher and librarian who led the salary negotiations on behalf of district teachers.
Base pay is now up by $1,500 to almost $39,000.
“That is a very nice increase,” said Knight. “We have not had an increase like that in a long time. Usually if we get an increase, it would be like a $500 increase to the base, and $1,500 is very good.”
The district will also cover the increase in health insurance costs.
“Blue Cross Blue Shield is predicting that we will get a seven percent increase in our insurance,” said Knight, “and the district is covering that, so that’s not money that you see upfront, but it’s very helpful for a teacher.”
For teachers, it’s about more than just salary. It’s a sign that the district appreciates their work.
“They’re still underpaid,” said Knight, “but it does make them realize the district does appreciate them. They’re trying to get their salary where it should be, where it needs to be, so it lets the teachers know the district’s working on that, and they’re trying to do that.”
On top of the base pay increase, teachers with at least 5 years in the district will receive a bonus before the holidays. The amount is based on how long they’ve been with the district.
Five to nine years in the district means a $500 bonus, 10-14 years of service means $700, 15-19 years comes with a $1,200 bonus, and teachers with at least 20 years in Garden City will receive a $2,000 bonus each December.
“It’s part of a permanent part of the agreement,” said KJ Knoll, the district’s financial officer, “so it’ll be a nice extra pay every year at Christmas for those that stay with us.”
It’s meant to help address the chronic problem of teacher retention.
“That’s definitely a sign of appreciation,” said Knight, “and we want you to stay in our district, stay longer.”
In Wichita, the teacher’s union is in negotiations with the district, who’ve offered a one percent pay increase. That contract hasn’t been agreed on yet.