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updated: 5/20/2010 4:38 PM

Fox River Grove teachers ink new deal

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For the next three years, Fox River Grove teachers won't have to navigate a complicated matrix of "step" and "lane" increases to determine how much they will be paid.

Instead, all of the teachers will receive the same dollar-amount increase each year. In the first year, the 2010-11 school year, every teacher will get a $989 increase. In the second year, all teachers get a $1,007 pay hike. The increase for 2012-13 is $1,026.

Superintendent Tim Mahaffy said the new system simplifies the teacher contract and gives the district more flexibility.

"We basically threw our salary schedule out the window," Mahaffy said. "This gives us flexibility to not be locked into an annual step increase."

Under the old contract expiring at the end of this fiscal year, and in most teacher contracts, teachers receive annual "step" increases for each additional year of work experience. These are often on top of "lane" increases awarded for additional degrees and credit hours.

The new contract, approved unanimously by the school board this week, will cost the district about $45,000, or 1.85 percent, more next year, Mahaffy said. The cost will go up 1.85 percent for each of the subsequent two years of the contract.

According to a news release, the Fox River Grove Education Association, which represents 42.5 certified employees, was also pleased with the deal, which was reached after just four bargaining sessions in March and April.

"They felt the new contract was fair to both the teachers and the board of education, and that it will help protect the financial health of the district in the future," said a release from the school board and the union.

The new three-year contract maintains the district's current contributions to certified employees' health insurance plans (80 percent of premiums for single coverage) and pensions (the entire amount required of both employer and employee, or about 10 percent of a teacher's annual salary).

Besides salary, the only other item that increased was tuition reimbursement, Mahaffy said. The district will reimburse $180 per credit hour, up from $145 currently. Teachers can also get up to $1,200 and $1,600 reimbursed in a single year for nondegree and degree programs respectively, up from $800 and $1,200.