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July 27, 2005

Teachers at school for deaf will get salary boost

From: Kansas City Star, MO - Jul 27, 2005

New legislation makes pay raise possible

The Kansas City Star

"It will help with recruiting because our entry level pay now is on par with local schools." – Robert Maile, KSD Superintendent "Until this year, a teacher could go to Olathe or Shawnee Mission schools and get several thousand dollars more." – Robert Maile, KSD Superintendent

New legislation will correct more than a decade's worth of low wages for teachers at the Kansas School for the Deaf in Olathe.

Wages were so low that some teachers were living on food stamps or working second jobs, said Sandie Kelly, the school's outreach facilitator.

When teacher Kaitlyn LeClerc heard about the coming pay increases, she did two things.

"I signed a lease for a newer apartment and I quit my second job," she said. "I was working part time, 15 hours every weekend to make ends meet. It will be nice to focus solely on teaching."

The wage increases are due to an amendment that passed in the State House in April. The amendment puts teacher pay at the state school at the same level given to teachers in the Olathe School District.

The new 2005-06 salary scale at the school for the deaf will be decided after the Olathe district announces its teacher pay raises, possibly early next month.

Le Clerc, 24, has her fingers crossed for a pay increase that could be as much as 15 percent.

State school Superintendent Robert Maile expects raises will range from 4 percent to 15 percent for all 65 of the school's personnel who are certified by the state to work with children. That includes speech therapists, counselors, psychologists and others.

Pay raise percentages will depend on the number of years a teacher has put in at the school, and a teacher's level of education. The money for the salary increases does not come from the state's $148 million funding plan going to public schools this year.

The state school does not qualify for the new state aid because it is classified as an agency, not a school.

The April amendment gives an additional $330,000 to the school's budget, and is good for the 2006-07 school year only.

That means the legislation is a one-time benefit, but Maile said it will make the school competitive again in terms of recruiting.

And that is a welcome change, even if it is for the short run.

"It takes a period of years for pay scales to creep back and be significantly behind again," Maile said.

For example, he said if Olathe School District teachers get a 3 percent raise for the 2006-07 school year, that puts the state school behind in starting salary by a few hundred dollars.

Previously, teacher pay scales were behind Olathe public schools by thousands of dollars, Maile said.

Last year, the starting salary for a teacher with a bachelor's degree at the state school was $24,050.

In the Olathe School District, a starting teacher salary was $30,950.

Based on a 10 percent raise, the starting salary for a first-year teacher at the state school would be $31,447.

For LeClerc, the amendment makes her feel as though the state finally views her and her colleagues as equals to other academic teachers in Olathe.

"A lot of teachers who have been teaching longer than I have look at it as respect," LeClerc said.

Average salary raises

Year 1997-98 98-99* 99-00 00-01 01-02 02-03 03-04 04-05*
Pay raise 4% 6.5 % 3.5% 3.5% 3% none 1.4% 5%

* In 1998-99 and 2004-05, the Legislature appropriated some additional funds for teacher pay.

To reach Noemi Herrera, Olathe education reporter, call (816) 234-7729 or send e-mail to .

© 2005 Kansas City Star and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.