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New 3-Year Teacher Contract OK'd by School Board

Deal calls for a "hard pay freeze" in the first year and small raises in the second and third.

The school board on Monday approved a new three-year labor agreement with the Association of Plainfield Teachers, which represents about 1,900 certified staff members, including all district teachers.

The board passed the agreement by a 4-2 vote. Board vice president Michelle Smith and member Greg Nichols voted against the new contract.

Board member Kevin Kirberg, who received the endorsement of the teacher’s union in this year’s election, abstained, saying after the meeting that he wanted to avoid any perception of a conflict-of-interest.

Members of the teachers union passed the new contract by a vote of 894 to 536, said Karie Beck, president of the APT.

Teachers had been working without a contract since their prior contract expired June 30.

Under the new agreement, a “hard pay freeze” will be in place for this school year. There will be no step, longevity or extra duty increases. Some lane changes will be allowed, as will a 6 percent increase for teachers who have submitted a letter of intent to retire.

For the 2012-13 school year, most APT members will receive raises of up to 2.55 percent, but raises will be less for brand new teachers who move up one step. Lane changes will be allowed, and longevity payments will be frozen at the 2010-11 levels.

For the 2013-14 school year, most APT members will receive up to 1.5 percent raises. Raises will be less for new teachers moving up one step. Lane changes will be allowed, and longevity payments will be frozen at 2010-11 levels.

Like the with the Plainfield Association of Support Staff -- the union representing the non-certified staff, including secretaries and custodians -- members of APT will pay a larger share of their health insurance costs, effective Jan. 1, 2012.

District officials anticipate that the two new labor contracts could save the district as much as $4.6 million this year as the district tries to find ways to reduce a projected $9.2 million operating deficit.

The district will present an amended budget to the school board before year’s end, but has not discussed any further cost-saving measures to eliminate the remaining deficit.

District officials also project the new agreements could save as much as $23.3 million over the next three years based on projected salary and health insurance costs, compared to previous forecasted contract costs.

Beck said she thought it was a “fair settlement,” and teachers are relieved the matter has been resolved.

“We were very cognizant of the finances of the district in trying to come up with a fair deal,” Beck said.

Board secretary Eric Gallt said the contract will benefit the district in the long term and no one group can solve the deficit on its own.

Board president Roger Bonuchi said the new contract is fair to employees while trying to solve the district’s deficit.

“Our teachers, support staff and administrators did not cause our financial problems, but each of these groups is helping to fix them,” Bonuchi said. “We recognize the burden that this creates for all of our employees, and we thank everyone for their hard work and commitment to doing what is best for our students, schools and families.”

Nichols said he voted against the contract because he did not feel confident the district could afford it, and that it might result in more layoffs.

“I don’t understand how we will pay for it without sacrificing programs for our kids,” said Smith, who also voted against the contract.

The school board has not discussed whether it will lift the pay freeze for administrators and non-union, non-certified support staff, which was frozen in February 2010. Administrators have also been contributing more towards health insurance costs to save about $600,000 a year.

Betsey November 08, 2011 at 01:16 PM
Not to toot my own horn but one thing you neglected to say in your article was me calling Mr. Kirberg out. Suggesting that it was the right thing to do. The District 202 teachers will always have my full support, but when a union over $1600 dollars in personal donations ($2000.00) each and the rest for campaign ads, mailers, yard signs etc. When I told my friends that our teachers in our district, they either were not aware or, thought I had to be mistaken. That's what upset me the most, that in the end I was right, and a membership was not fully aware of this. I to am worried there will be more cuts now because of the contract passing. Let me just say the only time I see the teachers union well supported by union reps is when the contract is getting voted on. God help us all and especially our children because of the recent negotiations. More will be cut programs and or positions.
Mike dombrowski November 08, 2011 at 02:17 PM
I don't understand the 6% increase for people that are retiring. It sounds like another way to just boost their pensions which are paid mostly by tax payers that have no pensions and are having trouble living due to constantly being property taxed to death. It is a shame that these unions hold the kids hostage every time a contract is due by going on strike. The kids suffer as do the programs for them to constantly pay raises. Privet sector people should be so lucky as to get raises in hard times. I do not begrudge people raises it just seems that the teachers feel they are entitled every time to get one. Home values have tanked but school taxes keep going up. The endless money pit of homeowners pockets is dry people lets give them a break.
Jay November 09, 2011 at 05:05 PM
"as will a 6 percent increase for teachers who have submitted a letter of intent to retire" Nothing more than a scam to the system to bump their pension payments.
Sheila Raddatz November 09, 2011 at 10:29 PM
Jay, The 6% referred to above, I believe, is a large decrease to what it once was. It is common practice to entice people to retire, I don't think there were any real "scams" involved. Mike, to look at the positive angle on your thoughts, we need good schools for promoting resale value. No one will move into our district if the schools are bad. The teachers are not receiving a raise for this year and they are contributing more towards their health insurance, they are not exactly coming out of this deal without licking wounds, either.

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