4 years of raises coming for Dist. 204 teachers

 
 
Updated 5/22/2018 5:41 PM
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Teachers in Indian Prairie Unit District 204 have a new contract that provides raises for each of the next four years, as officials aim to align salaries more closely with what teachers receive in similar districts.

Average raises among for the roughly 2,400 teachers in the Indian Prairie Education Association will be 4.13 percent for the 2018-19 school year, 3.5 percent for 2019-20, 3.43 percent in 2020-21 and 3.46 percent in 2021-22.

Board members in the district that includes parts of Naperville, Aurora, Bolingbrook and Plainfield approved the contract Monday, saying they're able to afford the raises in a balanced budget without dipping into reserves.

Doug Eccarius, assistant superintendent of human resources, said negotiators met for 100 hours during 15 sessions to reach the deal, which goes into effect Aug. 16 -- the day the next academic year starts at 33 schools across the district.

The salary increases will give teachers a raise on their base pay while raises associated with movements between the steps and lanes of the salary schedule will continue as usual, based on increased experience and education, said Paul Gamboa, president of the Indian Prairie Education Association.

The raises will help bring the district more in line with teacher salaries in comparable districts in Barrington, Batavia, Elmhurst, Geneva, Naperville, St. Charles and Wheaton -- all but one of which pay more on average than District 204, according to a recent budget presentation.

The four-year pact also increases stipends for leading a club or team and bumps up starting pay for first-year educators by $1,000 to $44,770.

"We definitely felt that we needed to get more competitive," Gamboa said. "We were trying to increase our base salary to make it more attractive to young and new talent."

School board President Mike Raczak voted "present" on the contract because he said he has a relative who is a union member. But the rest of the board voted in favor.

One former board member, however, began raising concerns about rising costs and the effect on taxpayers.

"I don't know where the money's going to come from if the tax rate remains the same without a referendum," said Christine Vickers, whose time on the board ended in May 2013. "To me, this is not a fiscally responsible decision on the board's behalf without knowing whether or not it's sustainable."

District and union officials could not immediately specify how much the raises in the contract will cost.

The deal follows a three-year pact that began in 2015-16 and included creation of a committee to address class sizes. Gamboa said the committee met, but it determined the district's ability to lower class sizes largely rests on the amount of state funding it receives.

If more state funding becomes available, Gamboa said, "both sides are committed" to decreasing class sizes.

If the state cuts funding, the contract specifies that either side may terminate the agreement after the second year.

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