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posted: 3/26/2010 12:01 AM

District 121 preserves jobs, gains union concessions

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Warren Township High School and its teachers union local have agreed on a contract amendment that includes concessions while preserving jobs to help bridge a projected $1.4 million budget gap for the 2010-11 academic year.

Gurnee-based Warren District 121 board members and the union reached the agreement last week. School officials and the union, in an announcement Thursday, cited a good working relationship in forging the one-year agreement.

In exchange for the district keeping 26 teaching jobs that were at risk, the union agreed instructors won't be paid for lunchroom supervision next year, and compensation will be frozen for coaches, club advisors and extra-duty staff.

Other union concessions include District 121 not replacing four retiring instructors and not filling some club advisory and coaching posts. District officials, anticipating reduced revenue, have agreed to cut an administration job.

Jason Jecmen, president of the Warren Township High School Federation of Teachers union local, said the 325 members overwhelmingly approved the concessions in their contract for the 2010-11 school year. The pact expires June 30, 2011.

"The goal of our collaboration was student-centered," Jecmen said. "We wanted to insulate our programs, minimize the impact of delayed state payments while acknowledging current economic hardships and preserve a quality working environment for our members."

Union members were credited by the district for offering money-saving solutions. District 121 board President John Anderson expressed his satisfaction with the deal.

"It's a good day for Warren Township High School," Anderson said. "All I can say is that's what happens when two parties with a common goal get together and share facts."

Similar contract renegotiations have been occurring at other suburban school districts trying to come to grips with budget woes.

Most recently, Wheaton-Warrenville Unit District 200 announced this week a tentative contract amendment agreement with concessions was reached with its teachers union that would help eliminate a projected $8.6 million budget deficit.

But some teachers unions have refused to grant concessions to save jobs.

At Park Ridge-based Maine Township High School District 207, the teachers union's roughly 600 members overwhelmingly rejected an administration request for contract renegotiations.

District 207's administration had asked the union to grant salary concessions to save up to 45 of the 75 teaching jobs eliminated in February.

To keep the jobs, the union would have had to agree to forego a 3.2 percent salary increase for the 2010-11 academic year, while still receiving step pay increases based on years of experience and a 3.5 percent wage increase in the 2011-12 school season.