Four-year pact approved for teachers in Diamond Lake District 76

 
 
Updated 11/30/2016 5:57 PM
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  • Students learning in a Fairhaven Elementary School classroom in Mundelein.

    Students learning in a Fairhaven Elementary School classroom in Mundelein. Courtesy of District 76

  • A four-year contract for Diamond Lake Elementary District 76 teachers has been reached after nearly a year and a half of negotiation.

      A four-year contract for Diamond Lake Elementary District 76 teachers has been reached after nearly a year and a half of negotiation. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

After about a year and a half in negotiation, teachers in Mundelein-based Diamond Lake Elementary District 76 have a new contract.

The four-year pact is retroactive to include the 2015-16 school year and the current year. Teachers in the three-school district have been working without a contract since August 2015.

Some will receive less and some more, but generally the 97 members of the Diamond Lake teachers union will receive a lump sum payout representing salary increases of approximately 3.3 percent for last year and 2017-18, and 4.95 percent for this year, according to union chief Christine Berrong. Salaries for the fourth year are to be determined but are expected to be in a similar range.

School board members approved the deal Monday and teachers had already accepted the agreement, said Berrong, an eighth grade social studies teacher at West Oak Middle School.

Salaries for the third and fourth years are tied to the Consumer Price Index, which is a yard stick used for the amount a given district can levy in property taxes. Salaries will increase 2.5 percent per "step," plus a minimum base increase of 0.9 percent as a "floor" for the CPI. The increases in base salary will assist in recruiting new teachers and reward returning teachers, both sides said Wednesday.

The increased amount the contract is expected to cost the district was not immediately available.

School board President Lisa Yaffe said the retirement and/or departure of several staff members provided some breathing room in salary negotiations, which were assisted by a federal mediator.

Both parties said it took awhile to review the contract and address with other issues, such as the teacher evaluation process, before salary increases came to the table.

"It had been a long time since we looked at a lot of the language in the contract," Berrong said. A revised teacher evaluation section establishes an appeal process and "really makes the whole process fair," she added.

District contributions to health insurance will not change through this year, but will increase in subsequent years. Extra-duty positions and compensation also have been restructured and the teachers' work day has been extended to make all buildings more uniform. Other issues, such as class size were referred to collaborative committees with recommendations to the school board.

Yaffe said talks were "always even keeled and professional," and the mediator helped prevent the negotiations from reaching an impasse. The mediator was "incredibly helpful," Berrong agreed.

In general, teachers are "very pleased" with the new deal, which will help District 76 attract and retain teachers, she said.

"Our teachers really have been working hard. They could have started this year with a bad attitude," according to Berrong.

The contract will be posted at http://www.dist76.org/.

@dhmickzawislak

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