The following is an update on the status of district negotiations with the National Education Association Shawnee Mission (NEASM) on a teachers’ contract for the 2019-20 school year.
We are limited by law in terms of what we can say, but it is important the community know that the Board of Education and district administration values our teachers, and is committed to coming to final agreement with the teacher’s bargaining unit and continuing to work together collaboratively towards the goals outlined in the district strategic plan.
What is the status of negotiations?
State law outlines process. The Shawnee Mission School District (SMSD) works together with the National Education Association Shawnee Mission (NEASM) to negotiate a contract for all employees in the certified bargaining unit. Negotiations of contracts for certified school employees are governed by the Professional Negotiations Act - K.S.A. 72-2218 et seq. Negotiations for that contract began last spring.
Mediation. Currently, the contract for the 2019-20 school year has yet to be completed. When the two parties were unable to come to agreement, NEASM declared that negotiations were at impasse in July 2019.
When impasse is declared, the two parties go to “mediation” and the Department of Labor assigns a mediator, who works with each party, in order to help the parties come to agreement. In September 2019, SMSD and NEASM participated in mediation sessions. Ultimately, mediation was unsuccessful in helping the two parties come to agreement.
Fact finding. The next step in the process is to go to “Fact Finding.” The two parties work together to choose a fact finder, who will set a time and place for a fact-finding hearing.
During that hearing, the fact finder will take testimony from the district and the union, examine documents and ask questions of witnesses. Once the hearing is complete, the fact finder will issue a report and recommendations to the two parties. The district and the union are currently in the fact finding stage.
One final opportunity to negotiate. Once the fact-finding report has been issued, the district and the union will have one final opportunity to negotiate a contract. If that effort is unsuccessful, the Board of Education will be responsible for determining the terms of the final contract for teachers for the 2019-20 school year. Once a final contract has been determined, teachers who have worked for the district for more than one year will have the option of accepting the contract for the 2019-20 school, working under the terms of the 2018-19 contract, or resigning without penalty.