The Hays USD 489 school board faced a standing-room-only crowd at its regular meeting Monday night, as teachers showed up to be heard, if only silently.
None of those present opted to speak during the audience participation segment of the meeting.
The board voted at its Oct. 8 meeting to declare an impasse in negotiations over teacher contracts. Kim Schneweis, co-chair with Kathy Wagoner of the teachers’ negotiations team, said the educators wanted to let the board know they are listening.
The district has filed paperwork with the Kansas Department of Labor to declare the impasse. The next step will bring in a federal mediator, scheduled for Nov. 8, Schneweis said.
Negotiations began in February. Schneweis said the district has offered teachers raises averaging 3.2 percent, far less than expected. She said other groups within the district, including administration, classified staff and maintenance staff received an average raise of 4.6 percent.
“It’s our understanding the 4.6 percent was budgeted, but the board decided to offer less,” she said. She said no explanation was given.
Superintendent John Thissen, who was absent from Monday’s meeting, and Bill Jeter, the board’s attorney, are designated negotiators for the school board.
The board went into executive session at the end of Monday’s meeting, but did not take any action after reconvening in open session.
In other business at Monday’s meeting:
• The board heard an update on the Chromebook study. There was a delay in the study, as the initial order from Dell was not fulfilled. An order from CDW was made Sept. 10, and the devices were received the end of that week. After setup, the Chromebooks were delivered to O’Loughlin Elementary, Hays Middle School and the Learning Center. The pilot program, which cost $22,543 and was approved in July, put 70 Chromebooks in the schools to help determine if the devices can be a less-expensive option for student devices in the classroom while still offering the same level of curriculum.
• Students from Hays Middle School told the board about the newly formed tech team and one of its projects. The tech team students have helped with setup for the school’s iPad rollout, developed a student life website, are learning to use assistive robots in the classroom and have created tutorials for students. They have also created tech tickets students to make reporting problems with devices easier.
The tech students have also created an online system allowing students to report for Zones of Regulation, a social-emotional intervention program that helps school administrators and teachers reach students who need help. It is often used at the elementary level with color-coded sticks for students to show their emotional state. The middle school students created an online quiz for students to report their emotional state. Data is sent to appropriate school personnel. The program is currently in a pilot stage with just a few students.
Corrected 7:50 a.m. to 4.6 percent.