District 203 approves 1-year teachers contract

 
 
Updated 4/24/2019 5:27 PM

The school board and teachers union in Naperville Unit District 203 have approved a one-year contract to give officials time to explore potential changes to the school day.

Groups of administrators and educators have spent the last couple years looking at ways to reorganize the standard school day and implement practices that would better serve students districtwide, Superintendent Dan Bridges said. The efforts stemmed from feedback gathered during a Future Focus 203 Community Engagement process.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The school day's length, start time and instructional elements have been evaluated at all levels, Bridges said, but officials have not yet determined how to move forward. Changing one aspect of the educational process could lead to various financial or logistical implications, he said, and also could impact collective bargaining negotiations with the Naperville Unit Education Association.

"There's a lot of moving parts, and we want to do it right rather than do it fast," Bridges said. "We're still working with our teaching staff and administrators to consider what recommendations we want to put in place."

A short-term deal for 2019-20 gives both parties "a bit of breathing room" to explore those possibilities, union President Mark Bailey said, noting he's encouraged by the district's collaborative approach through the process. Any changes brought forward for consideration likely would affect the terms and language of a future, longer-term teachers' contract.

"Technology and all those sorts of things have really made an impact on the way we educate children," Bailey said. "It was time to take a good, hard look at that. It's just not ready for prime time yet."

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The one-year rollover contract, which goes into effect July 1, includes base salary increases of 1.75 percent and an average salary increase of 3.88 percent for returning teachers, according to a news release from the district. As a result, the district's total salary costs will rise by 1.61 percent.

The school board ratified the deal this week after it was approved by the education association. The union represents more than 1,200 teachers in the district, which serves roughly 16,800 students in two high schools, five junior highs, 14 elementary schools and an early childhood center.

"This new contract continues the collaborative spirit of our educators and district administration to improve student learning with the fiscal stewardship our community has come to expect," school board President Kristin Fitzgerald said in a written statement.

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