Despite an economy in flux and the implications of state legislation affecting local school districts still uncertain, Glenbard High School District 87 officials and members of the teachers union said they were looking for stability during negotiations over a new teachers contract.
That's why the two sides were willing to agree to a five-year deal -- not unprecedented for Glenbard or other suburban high school districts, but perhaps rare in the current climate.
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After four months of negotiations described as productive by both sides, the school board voted 5-0 Monday to approve the deal, which awards teachers base salary increases of 0.5 percent in the first year, and 0.5 percent, 0.75 percent, 1 percent and 1.5 percent increases in subsequent years.
The 580 members of the Glenbard Education Association, including teachers, psychologists, social workers, nurses, librarians, counselors and department chairs at the district's four high schools, voted May 24 to ratify the contract, with about a 75 percent majority.
Officials said shorter-term agreements were considered, but the five-year pact, which will run from Aug. 10 through June 30, 2017, aligns with the district's five-year financial forecast.
The current teachers' contract, set to expire Aug. 9, also has a five-year term.
Outgoing Superintendent Mike Meissen said the new agreement is financially responsible and also "ensures educational quality and meets the requirements for fair and effective benefits for professional staff."
Association President Tom Tully called the contract "a fair deal."
"There's some positives to a longer deal. There's no opportunity for next five years to take away something we may want to keep," Tully said. "We're glad to get something each year (salary increases). Some places aren't getting anything. They got some stability; they're not giving away huge chunks of money to anybody. And we thought it was a way to give us some stability in these uncertain times."
Under the contract, teachers will pay higher health insurance deductibles and out-of-pocket costs, but premiums will be reduced.
Rod Molek, Glenbard's assistant superintendent for human resources, said 97 percent of teachers who elected to take a family PPO plan over the past three years would experience savings as a result of the contract changes.
"We think it will be a save-save," Molek said.
The new contract will also put into effect an updated teacher evaluation system, which is being converted from a three-tier rating system to four. Tully said union and district officials will put the final touches on the new system this summer.