Teachers in Wheaton Warrenville District 200 will get 6% raises

Wheaton Warrenville Unit District District 200 and its teachers union have finalized a new four-year contract that calls for 6% across-the-board salary increases for each of the next three school years and a longer elementary school day.

The school board and the Wheaton Warrenville Education Association, the union representing about 1,155 teachers and other licensed educators in the district, signed off on a new contract after about two months of formal negotiations.

Union and school leaders say the contract - set to take effect July 1 - allows the district to attract and retain quality educators in a tight teacher job market. The district will determine a cost-of-living pay raise in the fourth and final year of the contract by averaging the rate of inflation over two tax levy years. That increase will be subject to a floor of 3.5% and a ceiling of 4.5%.

"I think we've become competitive with our benchmark districts," school board President Chris Crabtree said.

The average salary for a District 200 teacher in 2022 was $77,232, according to the Illinois Report Card. By contrast, teachers earned, on average, $84,134 in Naperville Unit District 203, $78,222 in Indian Prairie Unit District 204 and $90,249 in Elmhurst Unit District 205, state data showed.

Currently, new teachers in District 200 are paid $48,433 under the terms of the most recent contract. Starting teachers are set to receive a base salary of $51,097 in the first year of the new contract, $53,907 in the second and $56,872 in the third. The final year of the contract establishes a base salary range of $58,578 to $59,146 for entry-level teachers.

The district also will develop a formal mentorship program that pairs beginning teachers with experienced educators to guide them through their first year.

Negotiators for the school board and the union launched formal contract talks on Jan. 26. But district officials said the two sides began preparing for and working on a new contract last July.

"Our educators have done incredible work over the past three years navigating unprecedented challenges," union President Bryce Cann said in a statement. "This agreement acknowledges that work, allows our district to offer competitive salaries and benefits to recruit and retain the best staff possible, and enables us to continue providing a high-quality educational experience for our students."

After eight bargaining sessions, a tentative agreement was reached on April 6. Union members ratified the deal on April 17. Current school board members unanimously approved the contract in one of their last decisions before two newly elected members take their seats on May 10.

"Overall, I have felt we have a strong collaborative environment between our administration, our union staff, our union," said Crabtree, who decided not to run for reelection.

Generally, each 1% salary increase costs the district an estimated $935,000, though officials say that's not the actual increase to the budget as it does get offset by retirements, staff adjustments and lane changes each year. There are still opportunities for teachers to increase their compensation through lane movement tied to their education and professional development.

Union members who wish to retire must now provide 4 years' notice. Once the retirement notice is provided in writing, it's irrevocable.

"That helps us to plan for our needs, as well as plan in terms of budget," Crabtree said. "Typically when somebody is looking to retire, they're at that higher end, and so it kind of gives us a little bit of a better idea of calculating out those costs."

The elementary school schedule also will be extended 10 minutes daily, equating to nearly 5 additional days of instruction over a full school year. The elementary school day will begin at 9:05 a.m. next school year.

"By doing this, No. 1, we are able to kind of create those larger blocks of instructional time, protect them so that they're not piecemealed here and there," Crabtree said. "But we're adding almost five full days of instruction by adding those 10 minutes on."

Officials say they are finishing up a few known edits and will post the contract to the district's website soon.

Chris Crabtree
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