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D300: Board, union in agreement on major issues in teacher contract

Updated: December 18, 2012 4:54PM

ELGIN — On Friday, just four days away from a possible teachers strike, Community Unit School District 300 spokesperson Joe Stevens sounded almost cheery about the negotiations the night before between the school board and its teachers union.

The two sides met for about four-and-a-half hours Thursday night, during which time some union members left to conduct an informational community meeting, then retuned, Stevens said.

And, he said, “My perception is things actually went quite well. The union did make some significant movement. My perception is we’re at agreement on most of the major issues.”

Local Education Association of District 300 spokesperson Mike Williamson had said at the informational meeting the union had submitted its counter-proposal to the school board that night. That includes movement by the union on salary and class sizes and “a pretty big leap” toward the board’s offer on retirement, Williamson said at the time.

The school also posted a summary of its updated offer to the union Friday on its website.

Changes include a 3 percent raise for teachers, including step raises for time spent in the district, for the current school year; 2 percent next year; and another 3 percent in 2014-15, it said. It also would lower the pay bump teachers receive in the last four years before their retirement instead of eliminating it. That would remain 6 percent this school year, then drop to 3 percent for the next two years, it said.

And it includes hiring about 44 new teachers, including 10 in middle school and 10 in high school. That would bring class sizes down to an average 28 in kindergarten to second grade and 31 at all other grade levels, it said.

“They would like us to add more, and while we would like to, we don’t have the money to add more. Were in uncertain financial times,” Stevens said.

The board spokesman pointed to a “significant” jump in bond payments the district must pay in 2014 and uncertainty how Illinois lawmakers might shift pension costs to the district as they discuss pension reform.

“We do believe we have a basic agreement on many of the financials, but again, nothing is done until it is done,” Stevens said.

LEAD is planning a meeting for its more than 1,100 members Sunday, and the board spokesman said, “I don’t think anything should be read into that.” Both the teachers union and school board plan to meet again at 8 a.m. Monday to iron out contract language, he said.

Teachers could walk out as early as Tuesday after filing an intent to strike notice with the district last month.

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