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updated: 12/20/2012 11:00 PM

District 300 board approves contract

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The teachers union and officials from Community Unit District 300 have agreed on a three-year contract that calls for increasing salaries and lowering class sizes, the latter beginning next year.

The board of education approved the contract in a 5-1 vote at a special meeting Thursday night, said board member Karen Roeckner, who cast the dissenting vote. Board member Stephen Fiorentino left the meeting before the vote, Roeckner said.

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The contract gives teachers 3-percent raises on average in the first and third year of the contract, and 2-percent average raises in the second year, according to a statement posted on the district's website.

The contract is retroactive to July 1 and runs through June 30, 2015.

In the 2013-14 school year, pre-K and kindergarten classes generally will have a maximum 20 students, K-2 classes a maximum 27 students, grades 3 to 5 a maximum 30 students, and grades 6-12 will be capped at 32 students.

In the 2014-15 school year, the contract calls for a maximum 26 students in K -2 classes, 28 students in grades 3-5, and a cap of 31 students for grades 6 -12.

LEAD 300 union members -- including teachers, social workers, guidance counselors, speech language pathologists and nurses -- had already voted Wednesday to ratify the contract. Union representatives did not respond to a request for comment Thursday night.

Roeckner said she was opposed to renewing a long-standing provision to give raises to teachers who are planning to retire.

Those raises have traditionally been 6 percent in the last four years of service; as per the new contract, the raises will remain 6 percent this year, and decrease to 3 percent in the last two years of the contract.

The contract states that benefit will expire after 2015.

"We asked for the maximum tax levy which didn't pay for everything that was in the contract," Roeckner said. "Taxpayers can't afford to pay that."

The agreement also calls for modifying high school periods from eight, 45-minute periods and a 30-minute lunch, to nine, 45-minute periods, one of which is a lunch period.

It also calls for the creation of several committees "to address the ongoing needs of District 300 staff and students."

The two sides first met with a year ago, but negotiations hit an impasse in November. LEAD 300's almost 1,300 members held a one-day strike Dec. 4, the district's first in 40 years.

That one-day loss of instruction will be made up for at the end of the school year, officials said.

The full contract will be on the District 300 website by mid-January, officials said.

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