Although it remains to be ratified by district teachers and approved by the School Board, negotiators for the teachers and administrators reached a preliminary contract Wednesday, Superintendent Tom Vernon told the Unified School District 428 School Board Thursday afternoon.
“We have a tentative agreement,” Vernon said during the board’s monthly luncheon meeting at Great Bend High School. It was the product of on-going discussions, including a morning-long negotiating session Wednesday between Great Bend - National Educators Association representatives and district officials.
The deal adds $100 per 180-day school year to the base pay for teachers and changes the structure of bonuses for advanced college degrees. In all, it will cost the district about $202,000.
According to district Business Director Dan Brungardt, the increase will be funded through two sources.
First is through attrition. There will be one fewer administrators in the district next fall after principals were shuffled.
The change means there will be no assistant principal at Riley Elementary. This works, Brungardt said, because enrollment at Riley is declining. Riley had been the largest grade school in USD 428, but many of the families that had children there have moved within the district and their kids now attend other schools.
Also, as longtime teachers retire, the are replaced by younger teachers at a lower pay.
The final items to be worked out between the two sides were mentoring of new teachers, work place safety, morale, a new teacher evaluation system and funding the salary schedule.
Vernon said the teachers have to vote on the deal and the board will take it up at its May 9 regular meeting.
GBHS building report
In his building report to the School Board Thursday afternoon, Great Bend High School Principal Tim Friess said there is a lot going right at GBHS.
“This is a great place,” he said. “There are a lot of good people doing good things.”
He ran down a list that included efforts to make better use of the 90-minute class periods under block scheduling and efforts to improve state assessment test scores as examples of how staff and students are working to make the school better.
However, he added, there are areas where improvement are needed. For example, where state English test scores look good, the high school is struggling on the math portion.
But, the school keeps moving forward. Assistant Principal Randy Wetzel said work continues on converting the vocational programs at GBHS to the “career cluster” and “career pathways” model.
Under this, classes don’t change, they just get reclassified into specific job-related areas. The requisite programs of study that accompany these pathways will outline necessary classes for students all the way through college.
The state has changed how it funds vocational programs. “The biggest reason we’re doing this is to keep the funding coming,” Wetzel said.
In other action
In other action Thursday, the board approved the resignations of: Jason Ingram, sixth-grade teacher at Lincoln Elemetary; Deanna Rogers, a Claflin-based Barton County Special Education Cooperative teacher; Shelly Turner, a teacher at Riley Elementary; and Kara Warren, a teacher at Riley.