Where West Chicago High School teachers, board are still far apart

 
 
Updated 1/26/2018 5:03 PM
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The West Chicago District 94 school board and teachers union have been locked in contract talks for nearly two years. Here's a look at some of the major sticking points:

Salaries: The board's latest proposal would boost teacher pay by an average 2.87 percent in the first year of the contract, 3.38 percent in the second year, 2.68 percent in the third year and 2.65 percent in the fourth.

The union is asking for an average 4.25 percent pay increase annually over four years.

Teachers also are seeking so-called step increases, while "the board is focused on a salary formula based on the consumer price index to determine the cost of each teacher's salary individually," a union statement reads.

Retirement benefits: The board wants to phase out a retirement incentive that gives teachers a 6 percent salary increase in the final four years of their employment. That 6 percent cap allows the district to avoid paying penalties established in a state law meant to discourage schools from giving late-career pay raises that boost teacher pensions.

The district would eliminate the incentive when the four-year contract expires at the end of the 2020-21 school year. The board also wants to sunset a provision that calls for paying insurance benefits for retirees until they are old enough to qualify for Medicare.

The union wants to keep those benefits in place.

Cost: The board's offer would cost the district roughly $2.9 million, school board President Gary Saake said. The district typically sets aside 80 percent of the education fund for teacher salaries and wages. Allocating that amount annually over four years also totals about $2.9 million, he said.

The two sides have debated the costs of the proposal by teachers. Union negotiators say the pay raises would cost the district an estimated $2.7 million over four years.

The board has priced out the proposal at about $5 million. That total encompasses salary, insurance and retirement benefit costs. It also includes the costs to create four new committees and implement other provisions of a new proposed section in the contract on "school climate and student learning conditions."

To meet the union's request, the board claims the district could spend more than $1 million on additional security personnel and cameras, hiring a new community outreach coordinator and other expenses.

The union maintains that the board's estimate is "significantly overinflated."

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