Elgin schools settle contract

February 15, 2002 11:00 pm

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

Following more than eight months of negotiations, the Elgin School District and its teachers and classified staff have agreed to a contract revision.

The Elgin School Board ratified a revised contract agreement Thursday following an extended negotiation period that started in June.

The agreement does not provide base salary or wage increases. But

it does boost what the school district will pay for health insurance


The school district is not able to offer base pay increases because of its tight financial situation brought on by declining enrollment.

Second-grade teacher Marta Naughton, president of the Elgin Education Association, which is comprised of teachers and classified staff, said that she understands the school districts plight.

I know that they would like to give the staff more. Everyone is frustrated, Naughton said. Were satisfied right now. There is not any place they could have cut to give us a raise.

About 90 percent of Elgins teachers and classified staff voted for the agreement.

Terms of the contract call for teachers and classified staff to receive $29 more a month for health insurance premiums. This will boost what the school district pays per employee for health insurance to $500 a month. The increase will be retroactive to Oct. 1, 2001.

Despite the increase, teachers and classified staff will be paying between $28 and $70 a month out of pocket for health insurance premiums depending on their plan. Previously, some teachers and classified staff were paying up to $97 a month out of pocket for insurance premiums.

The contract agreement also allows the salary schedule for teachers and classified staff to remain in place. Teachers at the top of the Elgin School Districts salary scale receive $44,450 a year. Starting teachers earn $24,639.

Terms of the agreement call for the school districts two full-time cooks, three full-time custodians and one full-time educational assistant to receive one-time stipends of $225.

In addition, a one-time stipend of $100 will be paid to the school districts three educational assistants, its counseling assistant and its dishwasher. These employees are receiving smaller stipends because they work part time.

The Elgin School District has 24 to 26 teachers and 14 to 16 classified staff, which includes secretaries, cooks, custodians, teachers aides and librarians.

Elgins teachers and classified staff are in the final year of a four-year contract that expires June 30. A reopener clause allows salaries and benefits to be renegotiated each year. Elgins teachers and classified staff bargain as one unit.

I am very happy to be finished with negotiations, said Elgin School District Superintendent Kerma Berry.

Nonfinancial terms of the agreement will allow all teachers to be dismissed Fridays at 3 p.m. Previously, teachers had to remain at school until 4 p.m.

The revised contract also allows teachers to be dismissed at noon on the following Fridays this school year: March 22, April 26 and May 24. The new contract also allowed teachers to be dismissed at noon Friday, Feb. 15.

The contract allows three secretaries, two media aides and an educational assistant to leave at 3 p.m. Fridays without a loss of pay.

The issue of Friday afternoons was a major sticking point in the negotiations and one reason why they were so extended. Elgins teachers and classified staff had originally wanted their entire Friday afternoons off. They wanted this as compensation for time worked in lieu of a pay raise.

Classes are always dismissed at noon Fridays. But district employees are required to remain on the job. Teachers are thus available to help students with school work.

The contract agreement also calls for the school districts site committee to study the possibility of starting a four-day week. The site committee must make a recommendation to the school board no later than May.