Palatine Township Elementary District 15 officials say the new teachers contract will eliminate the structural deficit by the second half of the four-year agreement, mostly because of a less generous salary schedule for incoming teachers.
Exactly what the numbers are remain a mystery, however.
The board unanimously approved the deal with the Classroom Teachers' Council on Wednesday, but officials won't provide the contract in its entirety until all the language is finalized.
Board President Tim Millar estimated it will be another week or two until the document is made available. Many of the loose ends involve a state law passed last year that dictates how districts handle reduction-in-force measures.
Still, members lauded the deal -- Millar said it's the only contract out of three he's voted for in his seven years on the board -- and said it's a step forward for the community.
"Everybody was laser-focused on making sure we kept the quality for not only one year, but the long term," he said.
The contract, which CTC President Lisa Nuss said received approval from two-thirds of the teachers union, calls for salary increases of 1.08, 2.08, 2.14 and 2.22 percent, respectively, for each year of the contract, including step movement for years of experience. It allows the district to rehire 17 teachers who were laid off, keeps program assistants in place and restores class size targets to current levels.
Changes to insurance benefits for teachers and all other District 15 employees will save more than $1.5 million annually. And compensation for graduate degree credit will be cut from twice a year to once.
Member Rich Bokor emphasized the long hours, collaboration and compromise that went into the agreement.
"I think both parties took leaps and bounds and faith in each other to get this agreement passed," he said.
Len Green of Palatine addressed the board and said he doesn't think residents should have to wait for the to see how the new contract will affect next year's budget, which currently has a $3.7 million deficit. Millar said it's premature to release projection models, although they were used in negotiations, because numbers are likely to change.