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updated: 12/5/2017 1:56 PM

New 5-year contract for teachers in Keeneyville District 20

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Teachers in Keeneyville Elementary District 20 have a new five-year contract that's retroactive to the start of the school year, officials said Tuesday.

Ratified late last week by the school board, the pact will give the district's 118 teachers 3 percent raises in the first year and 2.5 percent raises in the second. Raises in the third year of the contract will be based on the Consumer Price Index, with a guarantee they will not be less than 2.1 percent nor more than 2.3 percent. Increases in the final two years will be based entirely on CPI.

The contract also replaces a traditional salary schedule, which included annual step increases, with base salaries that will increase by the amounts agreed upon in the contract.

Under the new agreement, the salary for a starting teacher rises from $40,398 to $41,004, Superintendent Michael Connolly said.

In addition, the two sides agreed to extend lunch and recess for elementary students from 40 minutes to 50 minutes.

Connolly said the district once allowed 60 minutes for lunch and recess, but cut it back to 40 minutes because officials feared it was too long. The 40-minute system, however, proved to be too short.

The school board and Keeneyville Education Association began talks in June and reached the agreement after nine negotiating sessions.

Both sides praised the use of an Interest Based Bargaining process that scrapped traditional approaches of proposals and counterproposals and instead used a federal facilitator to bring the two sides together and keep them talking.

The outside third party, Connolly said, "helped keep both sides in the process and kept the process moving forward."

Speaking in a news release, Association President Joanne Champagne and the teachers' chief negotiator, Terry Karner, said the talks were "respectful, insightful and productive."

School board President Heather Weishaar said the district believes the contract is "fair and supports our faculty in the hard work they do each day educating students, while continuing our district's commitment to being good stewards of precious local resources."

District 20 serves roughly 1,550 students in two elementary schools, a middle school and an early childhood center.

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