Raises part of new 5-year Woodland union contract
Employee union members at Woodland Elementary District 50 in Gurnee have received a five-year contract that'll provide varying raises.
District 50 board members ratified the contract at meeting Tuesday night. The Woodland Council branch of the Lake County Federation of Teachers union gave the deal a thumbs-up Dec. 3.
School board President Chris Schrantz expressed satisfaction with the agreement in a statement.
"The board negotiating team and the union negotiated over the last 11 months to reach a long-term contract, which aligns with the district's long-range financial projections and supports the board of education's goal of attracting and retaining excellent teachers and support staff," Schrantz said. "The district expects over 60 teaching staff members to retire over the next five years, which will provide substantial cost savings."
Officials said the contract will run from the 2015-16 academic season through 2019-20. The contract covers 823 union members, including Woodland teachers, bus drivers and other workers.
Under the deal, certified teachers will receive "step" raises based on longevity plus 0.10 percent, along with "lane movement" on the salary scale reflecting the amount of postgraduate education they obtain. District 50 officials said the annual raises are expected to be 4 percent for about half of an estimated 425 instructors. Noncertified workers, such as the bus drivers, will receive increases of 4.15 percent for each year of the agreement.
Union leaders pointed to what they said are contract provisions that will improve teaching and learning in Woodland.
For example, they said, teachers will receive an additional month's notice of their assignments for the proceeding school year, giving them more time to plan. The union and school board also agreed to the terms of a program that'll allow parents to monitor student grades in real time.
Woodland Council president and eighth-grade science teacher Sharon Anday said the union's bargaining team was "amazing throughout the entire process."
"The unity our membership displayed was equally impressive and crucial in finalizing a fair contract for all -- especially the students we serve," Anday said in a statement. "We're not just employees of the district, but parents and taxpayers too, so negotiating changes that support our students ultimately moves our entire school community forward."
As part of the agreement, there will be elimination of a medical insurance plan option that would have resulted in Affordable Health Care Act penalties of $1.5 million on Woodland over the length of the contract. District 50 officials said the saving will help offset expected costs from salary increases over the next five years.
Employees began working this year under an expired contract, but some frustration began to show publicly. Before a bargaining session in late September, roughly 300 union employees and their supporters rallied to call attention to their desire for a new deal outside the Woodland administration building on Hunt Club Road in Gurnee.