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posted: 4/29/2010 12:01 AM

Addison teachers accept one-year pay freeze

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Addison Elementary District 4 has signed a three-year contract with its teachers union that calls for a salary freeze in the first year.

The school board unanimously approved the contract Tuesday, following approval by the Addison Teachers Association that represents nearly 300 teachers.

"This is a collaborative effort by the teachers association and the board of education to ensure we can continue to be financially responsible and work within current financial means," Superintendent John Langton said. "It's responsible to our taxpayers, our students and to all of our employees we will be able to continue serving."

The contract goes into effect July 1 and calls for a complete pay freeze in the first year, including base salary and step and lane change increases teachers usually get for increased experience and education.

In the second and third years of the deal, teachers' salary bumps will be limited to 25 percent of the Consumer Price Index for urban areas. Langton said preliminary estimates put the CPI for those years near 2.5 percent. Like year one, there will be no step or lane increases in the last two years of the contract.

Eliminating those increases in the coming school year is expected to save roughly $500,000 and about 10 teaching jobs, Langton said. The district recently gave layoff notices to about 50 nontenured teachers.

The district's most recent contract was a five-year deal that gave teachers 6 percent to 9 percent raises each year, including base, step and lane increases.

Langton said when that deal was negotiated in 2005, Addison teacher salaries were well below many districts and the deal was an effort to put them more in line with others.

In the new contract, teachers will pay 10 percent of their medical insurance premiums in the first year with a 1 percent increase in each of the following two years.

There had been a lump sum from a previous contract offsetting those costs until it ran out this winter and teachers began paying about 4 percent for an individual premium.

Retirement benefits have also changed under the pact. Teachers who have been in the district for 20 years and qualify can notify the district of their retirement two years in advance and receive a 4 percent salary increase in each of their last two years. Those teachers would not receive the CPI-based increases on top of the 4 percent.

In the expiring contract, retiring teachers who had been with the district at least 15 years could get a single 6 percent raise, one to five years of health care coverage and a lump sum separation payment of 35 percent of their last year's salary. The lump sum did not affect their pension.

Union members voted on the new deal Monday and 67 percent approved.

"We feel that the ATA has made the necessary sacrifices in order to save jobs," union Co-Presidents Tammy Bognetti and Carol Cisko said in a news release. "We are dedicated teachers that are proud to make a difficult decision to keep the district operating through this recession for the children of Addison."

The district and union had an initial meeting in December to talk about the negotiating process, then started formal talks in January.

They used a strategy called the Addison Plan, a collaborative process of informal discussions between the parties on an ongoing basis.

This year a first-year teacher with a bachelor's degree is making $41,141. A teacher with a master's degree plus 30 additional hours of college credit and 22 years of experience makes $94,622.

The new contract goes into effect July 1 and will expire June 30, 2013.