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updated: 6/14/2012 3:50 PM

District 200, teachers approve 3-year contract

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Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 approved a three-year contract with its teachers union that lengthens the school day for some faculty members and provides raises in each year of the pact.

The average teacher will receive a .64 percent raise in the first year of the agreement, a 2.9 percent increase in the second and an increase based on the Consumer Price Index of between 1 percent and 3.4 percent in the final year.

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The school board and the Wheaton Warrenville Education Association, which represents roughly 1,000 teachers in the district, finalized the contract Wednesday night.

Union members ratified the agreement June 5, with nearly two-thirds in favor, association President Bryce Cann said.

Under the terms of the contract approved by the school board in a 6-1 vote, elementary school teachers will work an additional 30 minutes a day, while middle school teachers will work an additional 30 minutes a week to allow for teams of teachers to collaborate on learning through the district's professional learning communities.

In addition, the contract eliminates a 6 percent salary increase that previously was available to teachers in each of their last four years before retirement. Instead, the district agreed to give teachers who retire after at least 18 years with the district a one-time payment of $500 for each year of service.

The payment will not affect pension benefits, district officials said.

"I'm satisfied with the fact that we're still committed to honoring long-term service to our district," Cann said of the post-employment payment.

District officials said the contract will allow them to balance the budget in each of the next three years.

Harris said the pay increases will cost the district $400,000 in the first year and $1.85 million in the second. The cost for the base salary increase and step movement in the third year could range from an estimated $1.4 million to $3 million, when the step will be tied to the Consumer Price Index, Harris said.

Under the previous contract which was set to expire June 30, both base salaries and step increases were frozen for one year. In the second year of the contract, step increases were still frozen, but the base salary rose by 1 percent.

"This (contract) is very aware of the difficult financial situation that District 200 is facing," Cann said. "But it also acknowledges the fact that you can't stay flat and static forever. There need to be cost-of-living adjustments."

Board President Rosemary Swanson applauded the collaboration during negotiations.

"To my way of thinking, this contract allows us to invest in what is our most important asset, which are those teachers, within what our community resources are able to provide," Swanson said.

Board member Jim Gambaiani voted against the contract, highlighting the cost to the district.

"We're dealing with unpredictable revenues," Gambaiani said. "We're continuing to deal with unpredictable expenses, and we have some very daunting financial challenges ahead in this district."

The contract takes effect July 1. It also provides for a reopener to address potential changes in state pension law.

The 20-school district serves more than 13,400 students in Wheaton, Warrenville and portions of Carol Stream, Winfield and West Chicago.

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