District 128 teachers, board ink new 3-year contract

Teachers at Vernon Hills and Libertyville high schools will receive pay raises in each of the next three years as part of a newly approved labor contract.

The Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 board approved the pact with the Libertyville/Vernon Hills High School Federation of Teachers on Monday night. It covers 280 employees and is effective July 1.

On average, teachers will get 4.73% pay raises the first year of the deal and 4.33% raises the second year, District 128 spokeswoman Mary Todoric said. An average raise of 3.76% is anticipated in the third year.

Under the deal, the starting salary for a District 128 teacher will be $54,522, up about 2.1% from $53,401, Todoric said.

Aside from the pay raises, the contract includes some notable benefit changes for employees and retirees.

For example, teachers who announce their retirements no longer will receive 6% raises in each of their final four years of work. Rather, they'll receive 3% raises in each of those years to follow state-mandated caps on salary increases in the pre-retirement years, Todoric said.

Additionally, employees will have to pay larger health-insurance deductibles. Conversely, the district will pay out more for approved tuition reimbursement than in the past.

Also, retirees no longer will receive a onetime payment equal to 20% of their base pay in July immediately following retirement, Todoric said. Instead, they'll receive monthly health insurance reimbursements of $250 for up to 10 years.

"The three-year agreement makes some significant, fundamental changes to previous contracts, which will provide a good foundation for helping to ensure sustainable financial stability in the district in the years to come," board President Pat Groody said in a statement.

The current contract with the teachers is a one-year deal scheduled to expire June 30.

School board and union representatives have been negotiating toward a multiyear agreement for two years.

Groody called the negotiations "challenging."

The deal, Groody said, "recognizes the important contributions of our dedicated teachers and balances this with the need to be good stewards of valuable taxpayer resources."

Union President Dennis Duffy said his group is pleased with the contract.

"While each side gave up important demands to reach a resolution, the settlement serves the needs of students, teachers and taxpayers alike," he said.

Duffy said teachers are sympathetic to taxpayers' financial concerns, noting that 35 percent of the staff lives in District 128.

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