New Trier teachers’ contract negotiations are continuing throughout the summer, with neither the school board, administration nor the teachers union commenting on progress or lack of it.
Representatives of High School District 203 and the New Trier Township Education Society, which represents about 400 teachers, began meeting Jan. 26, said Nicole Dizon, the district’s spokeswoman, who declined to give further information. The current contract expires on the last day of summer vacation.
Several months of discussion are typical for contract discussions, and the discussions usually center on salary and benefits, with some clarification in contract language, said Donald Goers, associate superintendent, who also said he couldn’t comment on ongoing negotiations.
But the current contract states that the objectives of its salary schedule are to “attract the best teachers in the country and encourage them to contribute their full capacity as educators to the students as a lifetime profession.”
“The policy of the school is to stimulate and reward quality in teaching and to make it possible for outstanding teachers to achieve a high salary level. These objectives will be pursued by the board in conjunction with sound and responsible fiscal planning for the use of the district’s available financial resources,” it also states.
The four-year agreement, which began in the fall of 2007, will end Aug. 21.
Generally speaking, the last contract provided a 4 percent base increase plus a step increase that totaled 6.4 percent to the teachers the first year. The second year granted a 3 percent base increase with a step increase totaling a 5.2 percent, Goers said.
During the third year, which was tied to the consumer price index, teachers received a 4 percent increase, that combined with a step increase, totaled 6.2 percent. And in this fourth and final year, the teachers had a 3.5 percent base increase, as well as a step increase that equaled 5.5 percent, he added.
“In the last contract, there also were some slight modifications to health insurance benefits to provide incentives for people to move to higher deductible plans,” Goers said.
However, dental insurance was provided with the full premium paid by the district, according to the contract.
“We also modified our retirement benefits because of the pension reform — a 6 percent cap — that took place. Before, we provided an increase of 10 and 20 percent at the end of their careers and that was changed to 1 percent the first year after retirement notification, and four 6 percents for the years after,” Goers added.
Tuition reimbursement toward higher degrees also was increased from $1,000 to $1,750 a year. And day care space was provided when it became available last year, with teachers paying “market driven rates” for its use, Goers noted.
He also said at the June 6 school board meeting that he believed the contract would be settled in time to be figured into the district’s budget, which could be finalized in September.