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updated: 6/27/2013 2:31 PM

Dist. 300 administrators see bigger raises than some teachers

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Administrators in Community Unit District 300 will get a bigger raise than some teachers next year, based on the intricacies of teacher salary schedules.

School board members this week unanimously approved 2 percent raises for the district's administrative staff for the 2013-14 school year. Allison Strupeck, director of communication services, said the increase was set to match the raise negotiated by the LEAD 300 teachers union.

But not all teachers will get the full 2 percent. Some will only get half that.

There are two different parts to teacher compensation. In District 300, there are six different pay scales, or lanes, based on education and 25 "steps" in each lane. Teachers get automatic raises each year when they move to a higher step because of another year of experience or they shift lanes because of their continuing education.

Mike Williamson, president of LEAD 300, said the increases mean the district pays for longevity.

"If we are going to attract and retain quality teachers, we have to be able to offer them reasons to stay," Williamson said, adding that there is significant turnover in young, energetic teachers who can find better pay elsewhere. "As time goes on, we're becoming less and less competitive with the districts around us."

In addition to the step and lane increases, teachers also are eligible for base salary raises, like the 1 percent negotiated for this past year and the 1 percent negotiated for the 2014-15 school year.

When the school district refers to the raises, they say teachers got 3 percent this past year, 2 percent next year and 3 percent in the 2014-15 school year, the final year of the contract. But that includes the average of all possible step increases, or 2 percent. Teachers with a bachelor's degree going into their 11th year of service will only see a 1 percent raise for the 2013-14 school year -- half of the average.

And teachers with the same education and length of service this past year saw a 2 percent total raise, not the 3 percent average the district cites.

School board members approved an amended 2012-13 budget at Monday night's meeting, officially incorporating those raises into its financial documents.

In a brief presentation about the budget, Chief Financial Officer Susan Harkin pinned a $777,600 deficit on the teachers contract.

"The amended budget reflects changes that were a result of negotiations with LEAD," Harkin said.

The original budget, proposed in Sept. 2012, included a $1 million surplus but highlighted the fact it included no salary increases -- not for teachers, nor for administrators while the teachers contract was still being negotiated.

The administrative staff ultimately received 3 percent raises for the 2012-13 school year. The school board approved them in December, the same night it approved the most hard-fought teachers contract in decades, which followed a one-day strike by LEAD 300's 1,300 teachers, social workers, guidance counselors, speech language pathologists and nurses.

Williamson said very few teachers received the larger raises this past year, but it was possible. A teacher with a master's degree in his or her ninth year with the district, for example, would have gotten a 3.6 percent raise.

Williamson said the union membership has been frustrated about administrative raises while looking back at the strike, when district negotiators were arguing there was no money to give.

But he said 2 percent next year is better than some alternatives.

"It's not like they gave themselves raises that are absurdly out of step with what's going on in the rest of the organization," Williamson said.

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