Wichita Public Schools and the union representing the district’s service employees have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract.
The new salary and benefits package includes a 3.75 percent raise for service employees of USD 259.
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 513 represents more than 2,000 classified employees in the district, including custodians, food service employees, paraprofessionals and clerical staff.
"I'm happy that we can finally do something for our employees," Mike Rodee, president of the Wichita School Board, said in a statement. "It's been a long time coming, and though they certainly deserve more, the Board is pleased that we can do what's right and invest in our employees through salary increases."
The district said in a statement that the roughly $20 million in additional funding from the state allowed for the increased salaries. USD 259 has made recruitment and retention of teachers through compensation its top budget priority for the current school year.
Esau Freeman, with the SEIU, says he's “pleased” with the package, which unfreezes longevity pay and offers movement on the career ladder for eligible employees.
"The district did a good job of addressing non-financial concerns that we had as well, and they really have come to the table with a good package," Freeman says.
Freeman says he expects the union will approve the contract next week. If it passes, the Board of Education will give final approval in October.
The BOE is still in negotiations with the local teachers union over a new contract, which could include a 3 percent salary raise.
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