Fenton High School teachers, board approve 2-year contract
Fenton High School District 100 teachers will not receive cost-of-living increases for the next two years, but their salaries will continue to rise based on their years of experience and education.
After five months of negotiations, the Fenton Education Association ratified a new two-year contract with a 65-44 vote last Tuesday, a day before the district's roughly 1,500 students returned to Fenton Community High School in Bensenville. The District 100 school board approved the contract Monday.
"We're pretty much under a 2-year soft freeze of sorts," said Fenton Education Assocation lead negotiator Clint Porter. "Both sides were working to make sure the financial viability of the district remains sound."
As a result, he said, the association and the board came to the table with more conservative offers than in recent years.
Board President Mary Ribando said in a letter to parents that the contract has the potential to allow the district to maintain a solid financial position, "even in the face of future uncertainties with school funding."
"At the same time, we continue to offer competitive wages and benefits to our teachers for their work and dedication in their classrooms each day," she said.
For the first year of the contract, teachers will only see a change in their salary if they receive more education. In the second year, they will get increases both for completing more education and for years of experience.
In lieu of a raise to their base pay, all returning teachers who receive less than a $1,400 salary increase due to their placement on the salary schedule will receive a $1,400 stipend both years.
In addition, the contract lowered the starting pay for teachers with bachelor's degrees and no experience from $55,372 to $51,500. The top end numbers are remaining the same and more steps have been added to the schedule to stretch the pay scale.
One of the biggest concerns for teachers, however, wasn't the pay, but changes to the district's leadership structure.
Porter said department chair positions have been eliminated and replaced with four new "division leader" administrative positions that will be held by new employees who will not be part of the education association. That means people such as Porter, who previously taught for three class periods a day and spent the rest of his time working as math department chairman, will transition into teaching full-time.
In an exit survey, teachers also expressed dissatisfaction with the contract's elimination of instructional coach positions.
"The FEA views both changes as an elimination of support for teachers and instruction, which directly impacts student learning," read a statement released by the association earlier this week. "The FEA is encouraged the district has tentatively agreed to its request for the formation of a monthly forum which will allow teachers, administrators and board members to have more direct, open communication."