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updated: 6/11/2012 9:20 PM

District 15 teachers contract restores class-size targets

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Palatine Township Elementary District 15 officials say the new four-year, tentative agreement with teachers will provide "moderate" salary increases while also returning to current class-size targets.

The district Monday released several highlights of the contract, two days before the board is set to vote on it. Last week, the Classroom Teachers' Council ratified the deal with approval from about two-thirds of the union's 830 members.

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"We thought it was important for the public to have some information before the board vote took place," said Superintendent Scott Thompson, adding that the district waited to share details until board members received copies of the contract over the weekend.

Among the highlights:

• Overall annual salary increases by 1.08, 2.08, 2.14 and 2.22 percent, respectively. That includes step movement for experience, but not lane movement for academic credentials.

• New Tier II salary schedules for new teachers hired beginning in the 2012-13 school year to better manage salary costs.

• Changes to the insurance plan for administrators, faculty and all other employees, reducing the district's costs by an estimated $1.5 million. Thompson said savings will come from higher premiums and other factors.

• Compensation for graduate degree credit will be limited to once per year, down from twice per year.

The contract also keeps class-size targets where they currently stand.

The district will rehire 17 teachers laid-off at the end of the school year due to earlier budget cuts. The deal retains full-time program assistants, as well, eliminating a plan approved by the board in March to reduce to their employment to part-time status.

"We won't have any reduction in PAs, but over the course of the coming years, the number may reduce through attrition," Thompson said.

Still needing to be ironed out is a new weekly program that will allow administrators and faculty to collaborate on training initiatives, hold meetings, gather and analyze educational data and provide planning opportunities -- all without a loss in instructional time.

One idea is for students to start 40 minutes late on Wednesday, but stay 10 minutes longer the other four days. The program won't be implemented until the 2013-14 school year to allow for further study and community input.

"We'll come up with the best plan that has the least impact on families," Thompson said. "I think this will allow for more professional development without taking teachers out of the classroom."

Board President Tim Millar commended the bargaining teams, saying negotiators for both the board and union devoted an enormous number of hours to address difficult financial and educational issues.

"We believe that the hard work of these two bargaining teams will have both short-term and long-term benefits for our students, our employees and our taxpayers," Millar said in a statement.

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