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D300 teachers release details of final contract offer

Updated: December 19, 2012 11:06AM

The union representing teachers in Community Unit School District 300 posted its final contract offer to the Carpentersville-based district Wednesday on its website.

The 13-page offer by the Local Educators Association of District 300 includes guidelines to lower class sizes at all grade levels, salary increases over the next three years, and a smaller pay bump for the last four years before a teacher retires.

That comes after about 4½ hours of negotiations Tuesday night, during which both the union and school board clarified their offers. Also during that meeting, just over a week after the union declared an impasse in talks, the tone “was more positive than it has been, and that was nice,” LEAD spokesman Mike Williamson said.

“It was nice to sit with the teams and have congenial conversation,” Williamson said.

But District 300 Board of Education spokesman Joe Stevens said Wednesday the board and teachers union still are “some ways apart.”

They had a good conversation, Stevens said, and both the board and union now understand what the other is offering. But there was no movement by either side, he said.

“We’re trying to find ways to bring our issues closer together, recognizing still the big issues on the table are the financial ones,” he said.

The union offer posted online would set class sizes at 20 students in preschool, with a maximum 40 students per teacher each week, based on a five-day program. Classes would be split once they reach 29 students in kindergarten through grade two and 32 students in grades three to five, it said.

The average class size in middle school would be 29 students, up to 174 students per teacher each day, it said. And at the high school level, classes would be capped at 30 students, and teachers would teach five classes in a nine-period day, it said.

That likely would mean needing to hire an additional 12 elementary school teachers, eight middle school teachers and 14.8 high school teachers, costing the district an additional $1.8 million a year, according to the offer. But it also would save the district about $200,000 annually in what is known as overload expenses that teachers are paid for extra work.

It also proposed a raise in base pay for teachers of 2.25 percent this school year, in addition to regular step increases for time spent in the district; 2.45 percent in the second year, plus step; and 2.7 percent in the third year, plus step, according to the offer. That would cost the district about $6.4 million over the next three years, subtracting the salaries of teachers planning to retire next year, it said.

And it proposed shrinking the pay bump for teachers in the last four years before retirement from 6 percent to 4 percent, it said.

The big issues in District 300’s contract negotiations have been class sizes, as well as compensation, teachers’ working environment and past concessions the union has made, LEAD noted in its final offer.

In its final offer posted exactly one week earlier, the school board had proposed the same class sizes in kindergarten through third grade. At the high school level, it also had agreed to move to a nine-period day at its three high schools.

The board had offered to increase teacher salaries about 2.75 percent retroactively this school year, as well as about 2 percent and 2.5 percent in each of the next two years, respectively. That would not include additional step increases, however.

And it proposed a phase-out of pay bumps for retiring teachers over the next three years.

District 300 now is the last school district in the Elgin area without a contract or tentative agreement with its teachers.

A small team of leaders from both District 300 and LEAD is set to meet Sunday to discuss “specifically financial issues,” Stevens said. The full bargaining teams for both sides then are to meet again next Tuesday, he said.

Williamson said the teachers union is cautious, but, “We’re definitely excited about the idea of moving forward, and we’re definitely excited about working with them. I truthfully enjoyed speaking with the team about possibilities.”

“I wish we could have done this months ago.”

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