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D181 Board Approves New Teachers Contract

The contract was ratified last week by the teachers union and will be in place until June 2014.

The public back-and-forth between District 181’s teachers and board regarding labor negotiations began with and it ended Monday night at with only a few comments.

Eleven days after it was announced that the District 181 Board of Education had reached an agreement with the Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills Teachers’ Association on a new contract,  the board unanimously approved a three-year deal containing a base-salary freeze for teachers during the current school year. The contract was ratified by the teachers last week, according to HCHTA President Justin Horne.

Board vice president Glenn Yaeger filled in as board president Monday in the physical absence of Michael Nelson, who attended the meeting via telephone. Yaeger read from a joint statement issued by the board and the union that detailed the new contract.

According to the statement, the new contract will cover the current 2011-12 school year as well as the 2012-13, and 2013-14 school years. It will expire on June 30, 2014.

Teacher base salaries will be frozen during the first year of the contract in 2011-12 with no step increases, which are raises based on a teacher’s longevity. The teachers will receive the same pay they did during the 2010-11 school year.

In the second year of the contract, the teachers will receive step increases, but their base salaries will remain frozen. In the third year, teachers will receive a base-salary increase equal to 90 percent of the prior year’s CPI in addition to step increases.

The base-salary increase in year three can’t be any less than 1.2 percent and it can’t be any more than 2.2 percent.

The step increases in year two of the new contract will cause the district’s budget to grow by 2.9 percent, and the base-plus-step increases in year three will cause the budget to grow by 4.1 to 5.1 percent, according to the joint statement.

A clause in the agreement will keep the District 181 teachers among the top paid in the state. If in any year it is determined that the district’s starting salary is not among the highest 10 percent of starting salaries in Illinois, the board will increase the base salary for the following year so that it is among the top 10 percent.

Board members react

Board member Yvonne Mayer worked on the board’s negotiation team with Sarah Lewensohn and, during an earlier period, Russell Rhoads. She said the “very difficult process” began in the summer of 2010 and continued beyond the old contract’s expiration in August and into the current school year.

“One of the reasons for that is, in this tough economy, everyone took this contract very seriously,” Mayer said.

Nelson said over the phone he appreciated the teachers’ “tireless effort to find common ground” and their dedication to continue teaching during the negotiations.

“Now we can get on with the business of teaching our kids and creating the best educational environment for all,” Nelson said.

Horne, a fifth-grade teacher at , was in attendance Monday night but did not speak during public comment. He said after the meeting that he was happy to hear Nelson commend the teachers’ dedication to their jobs, but did not offer an opinion on the new contract.

Finding compromise

The contract approved Monday represented something in between prior offers made public by the two sides, though it closely resembled a board offer made public in August.

The board offer included the year one freeze and the step-only increase in year two. In the prior board offer, however, the year three base increase was only to be 50 percent of CPI, not 90 percent. The top-10-percent clause was also not mentioned publicly in the earlier offer.

, meanwhile, was released in September and included step increases during the second half of the current school year. In year two, teachers offered a salary freeze for the first half of the year, then a 1.75 percent increase plus step in the second half. In year three of the union’s last offer, teachers would get a 2.2 base increase plus step for the full year.

Salaries were the sticking point in negotiations, but the contract details plans for other teacher benefits. Teachers will receive pay for 13 hours of professional development and will not get compensation at retirement for unused sick days. The district will pay 10 percent of health insurance coverage for eligible retirees on PPO health plans and 100 percent on HMO plans for up to five years or until the retiree qualifies for Medicare.

The new contract changed nothing in health coverage for active staff and changed nothing in retirement incentive pay. 

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