Education

Contract for Collinsville teachers was just approved for this school year

Members of the union representing teachers in Collinsville Unit 10 brought signs to a March 26, 2018, meeting with school district officials to negotiate a contract. The teachers have worked without a contract for the 2017-18 school year since August.
Members of the union representing teachers in Collinsville Unit 10 brought signs to a March 26, 2018, meeting with school district officials to negotiate a contract. The teachers have worked without a contract for the 2017-18 school year since August. Provided

Collinsville-area teachers learned this week that they are getting the pay raises they requested in contract negotiations with school district officials.

Teachers in Collinsville Unit 10 had been working without a contract before an agreement was approved during a special school board meeting on Monday night.

The district said in a statement that negotiations were stalled because of uncertainty about exactly how much money it would receive from Illinois for the year.

But in early April, the Illinois State Board of Education announced the funding amounts that school districts will see. Collinsville Unit 10 is getting $23 million — which is $1.5 million more than last year since Illinois changed the way it distributes state dollars to schools.

The new, two-year contract for teachers includes a 0.75 percent salary increase, as well as a 2 percent increase to the money they’ll receive when they move to the next step of the pay scale.

Teachers’ pay is based on the number of years they work in a district and their level of education. When they work for another year, they move up the steps of the scale to higher pay. They also see an increase in pay when they go back to school.

Mark Schusky, who was the co-chair of the union’s negotiating team, said that teachers in their first year with the district up to teachers in their 19th year would benefit from the step increase, with limited exceptions.

For teachers who are eligible to retire between 2018 and 2020, the contract also includes a $1,500 incentive for retiring.

Both Schusky and school board president Gary Peccola described the negotiation process as collaborative.

Schusky said the union is happy with the results. He called it a fair contract.

“We certainly hope that the increased state funding will continue, so our district and all districts can pay teachers competitive salaries and draw the best people to the profession,” said Schusky, who is also the union’s treasurer.

Peccola said in the district’s statement that officials appreciated teachers’ patience as they waited for details from the state.

Union co-president Stacey Lauenstein said previously that some teachers were frustrated by the eight-month wait because there were things they couldn’t do without a contract, such as plan for their retirements or receive the pay increases they earned by continuing their education.

“This is my 20th year in the district, and we’ve never gone this long without a contract,” Lauenstein said at the end of March. She added that teachers understood that the school board wanted to know how much it had to spend before bringing an agreement to the union.

The new agreement is retroactive to cover the 2017-18 school year, as well as the 2018-19 school year ahead.

Collinsville Superintendent Robert Green said the following in the district’s statement: “We are now able to finish this school year and look forward to the 2018-19 school year with certainty. Our district’s leadership and (the teachers’ union) are always on the same page about our students being the top priority.”

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