HUTCHINSON, Kan. — After numerous negotiation sessions between the KNEA and Hutchinson USD 308, the two sides came to a tentative agreement on a new contract. On Wednesday, the teachers approved that contract during a special meeting.
The agreement comes after both sides wrestled with proposals that were very far apart when it came to salary and benefits. After much work, the two sides were able to close that gap. USD 308 Human Resources Director Rick Kruase says the new contract, among other things, will raise the starting salary for teachers by $1,250 to $37,501. Approval came after a meeting with teachers and KNEA Wednesday afternoon.
Under the new contract, the base will increase by 3.45 percent and add an additional step to each column ($1,250 each) that allows members with at least 1 year of experience to move vertically. It also provides horizontal movement for those who qualify. Starting teachers will now have a base salary of $37,501.
The new contract also allows 12 weeks of pregnancy or adoption leave and provides an option for early retirement due to unforeseen circumstances, such as health issues, and adds language to clarify non-teaching personnel, such as counselors, nurses, school psychologists, social workers, physical therapists and occupational therapists, who will be awarded steps according to professional experience outside the field of education in addition to experience within education. The new contract also removes language that paid members for unused sick leave days while remaining an employee. The contract is retroactive to the beginning of the district’s fiscal year.
With approval of the new contract by teachers, the School Board will approve it during the regular meeting on Jan. 22.