It’s a deal, tentatively at least.

As a large crowd of interested teachers watched, the Hays-NEA bargaining team and USD 489 negotiating team came to a tentative agreement Wednesday evening.

School district negotiators nixed the union proposal to allow teachers to move three vertical steps on the salary schedule. They did agreed, however, to allow those who qualify to move a horizontal step on the scale.

Salaries on the scale currently range from a starting salary of $35,870 for teacher with a bachelor’s degree and no experience, to $57,520 for a teacher with an education specialist degree who is at the top of the schedule.

Vertical movement is based on years of experience, and horizontal movement is based on college degrees and hours of professional development.

“We can present this to the teachers for a vote. I think it would have a much better chance of passing if you had a vertical step in there,” said Kim Schneweis, co-chair of the bargaining unit.

Rehashing the vertical salary discussion is going back to the beginning, BOE member Paul Adams said.

He urged the teachers to discuss vertical steps during the next negotiation cycle.

The last contract was defeated in October by 89 percent, and more than 70 percent of the bargaining unit voted.

“I don’t know if there’s enough in here now, none of us know, if people will vote for it, if it will pass,” said Ron Leikam, H-NEA bargaining team member.

BOE representatives agreed to the monthly insurance benefit for retirees proposed by the Hays-NEA.

If they qualify retiring teachers would receive the benefit for 10 years down to seven years in 2019, and the amount paid toward the premium will decrease for those retiring every year thereafter.

Language centering on accumulation of days in the severance payout was the other main sticking point.

The two groups of negotiators agreed new hires will be required to work for five years and accumulate 20 days to be paid severance of $45 per day.

These currently working for the district will be capped at their June 30, 2015 number of days or up to 80 days of severance pay, whichever is greater, at $65 per day.

BOE President and lead negotiator Lance Bickle said the two groups have a tentative agreement, but he will present the agreement to the board Monday night in executive session to get a consensus.

The board will vote on a contract only after the bargaining unit composed of teachers approve it.

Schneweis and bargaining team co-chair Kathy Wagoner said they will hold meetings for teachers next week to outline the agreement. They expect teachers to vote by the end of the month.