District 200 school board, teachers union ink 4-year contract

 
 
Updated 5/12/2018 5:59 PM

The Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 school board and teachers have approved a four-year contract that replaces a traditional salary schedule with a pay structure tied to inflation.

The deals ends three months of formal negotiations between the board and Wheaton Warrenville Education Association, the union representing roughly 1,000 teachers and other licensed members. The tentative agreement was reached in April after 10 bargaining sessions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Union members will receive across-the-board base salary increases of 2.5 percent in the first year. The district will determine annual salary increases in remaining years by averaging the rate of inflation over two levy years.

The pact also establishes a 2.5 percent floor and 3.5 percent ceiling for annual cost-of-living raises in the remaining years.

A first-year teacher now makes $44,525. Under the new contract, that teacher will make $45,416.

The highest-paid teacher under the previous agreement received $114,616. The new contract eliminates scheduled salary steps based on longevity in the district, so there won't be a set top salary. Teachers will receive lane increases tied to their education and professional development.

Teachers ratified the agreement May 4. The school board this week approved it in a 6-1 vote, with member Jim Gambaiani opposing it.

Board members had a full copy of the most recent collective bargaining agreement and were provided a summary document of the contract changes before the vote Wednesday, Superintendent Jeff Schuler said. Board members also were briefed by the bargaining team during negotiations.

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The final contract won't be released until officials make some "final editing," likely in several weeks, Schuler said.

Schuler said it's difficult to estimate the cost of the salary raises because of teacher turnover and retirements. But generally a 1 percent salary raise costs the district about $800,000.

Official talks began Jan. 17, but district and union negotiators established a committee that spent about two years creating a new salary structure that replaces a traditional schedule.

"We believe that this agreement respects our profession and reflects what is best for our educators and the district," union President Bryce Cann said in a statement.

The rest of the new agreement, Schuler said, retains much of the same language as the last contract.

"The district and the (union's) collective bargaining teams worked diligently and responsibly to reach an agreement that both appropriately compensates our teachers and incentivizes them to enhance their teaching skills to the benefit of our students," Board President Jim Vroman said in a statement. "At the same time, the terms of the new agreement are consistent with the District's goals to maintain a balanced budget and address our major capital needs and facility projects."

The contract will run through the 2021-22 school year. The district serves students in preschool, 13 elementary schools, four middle schools and two high schools.

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