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updated: 4/12/2016 6:26 PM

District 15 board to vote on 10-year teacher contract

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Palatine Township Elementary School District 15 board members will vote Wednesday on a 10-year contract with the district's teachers union, the Classroom Teachers Council.

The unusually long contract calls for an increased workload for art, music and physical education teachers, and offers incentives for longtime teachers to retire up to four years early, something the district says will save money. The district's previous deal with teachers covered four years.

District 15 school board President Peggy Babcock said she is not commenting on the proposed contract until both sides ratify it. Superintendent Scott Thompson and a representative of the teachers union did not respond for comment.

However, in a March 9 memo to the school board, Thompson writes that the 10-year deal would be reassuring to teachers and encourage stability in "our excellent teaching force."

"It also avoids protracted negotiations and legal costs multiple times in the next 10 years if the contracts were shorter in length," he adds.

The memo does not detail expected raises for teachers or any changes in their health benefits. However, it does alter how teachers can transition from the district's Tier 2 pay scale to Tier 1.

The two-tiered salary schedule came about in 2012 as part of the current contract. It put all of the current teachers at that time on Tier 1, and all new hires on Tier 2. The largest discrepancies in pay between the two tiers occur in the middle and end of teachers' careers.

Thompson, in his memo, says the two-tier scale has caused problems between the district and its teachers. Tier 2 teachers, Thompson writes, see their pay scale as "inferior to the Tier 1 counterparts."

If the board approves the contract, Tier 2 teachers could move up to Tier 1 after six years of teaching in the district. Once a teacher is moved to Tier 1, he or she will receive a salary "just higher than their Tier 2 salary," according to Thompson.

"Individual teachers will receive reasonable raises, while the increase in cost to the district over the 10 years is .9% per year," Thompson's memo states.

The proposed contract also allows teachers enrolled in online graduate courses to be reimbursed for additional credit hours, and gives teachers more sick days annually once they have saved up 170 unused sick days.

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