After debating pension impact, District 211 board approves 2-year teachers contract
Exactly four weeks after the teachers union in Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 authorized a strike, the school board Thursday voted 5-2 to approve a new two-year contract.
Half the length of the expiring contract, the new one taking effect July 1 grants base salary increases of 3% for both affected school years.
The contract also grants an increase from 3% to 6% in the threshold of final pre-retirement earning limitations, aligning with state legislation, district officials said.
The new agreement further calls for increased health care premiums for the teachers.
But it was the change in the pension aspect that sparked the most debate among board members before the vote.
Board members Pete Dombrowski and Mark Cramer voted against the contract after making separate statements supporting competitive wages but criticizing the impact of pension changes.
Fellow board member Kim Cavill said she agreed with a number of their criticisms but thought those problems were better addressed by state officials than individual school boards.
Cramer responded that he believes the contract decisions of individual school boards contribute to the statewide pension problems he sees.
Board President Anna Klimkowicz said the union's threat of a strike didn't sit well with her and noted that keeping students in school should be the top priority of all concerned.
"This contract is not ideal ,.. but going forward, it's workable," Klimkowicz said.
According to the State Board of Education's Illinois Report Card data, the average annual salary of a District 211 teacher in 2021 was $108,794.
That average was $70,653 statewide. But it was $108,319 in Stevenson High School District 125, $120,436 in Maine Township High School District 207, and $113,278 in Northwest Suburban High School District 214.
District 211 teachers union members voted March 31 to authorize a strike if they didn't have a new contract by July 1.
Shortly afterward, Local 1211 President Anita Lee said teachers had no wish to strike but that their vote had been based on what they saw as a significant difference between the two sides' positions after six months of negotiations.
The current four-year contract expiring on June 30 was approved in January 2019 and was retroactive to the previous fall. Under its terms, teachers received base salary increases of 2% for the first two years and increases equal to the rate of inflation up to 1.75% in the third year and up to 1.5% in the fourth.