D112 pact preserves pension pay boosts
Debra Van Aman, a teacher at Edgewood Middle School in Highland Park, carries a "Fair Settlement" sign with colleagues outisde North Shore District 112 offices during a one-day strike on Oct. 16.| Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 16, 2013 4:48PM
HIGHLAND PARK — Teachers in North Shore District 112 who announce plans to retire in June of 2017 can continue to receive pay raises of 6 percent during each of their last four years. But those pension-enhancing raises will expire with this contract and won’t be available to new participants.
Teachers nearing retiring were among the winners under the two-year deal reached in the early morning hours Oct. 17, cutting short a one-day teachers’ strike. To receive the raises for all four years, teachers must provide notice in February, 2013. Starting with this agreement, retirees no longer will receive a lump-sum $15,000 bonus, a perquisite only recently added in 2010.
The new contract freezes the salary schedule at 2012 pay rates, but preserves the yearly step increases received by teachers who’ve not reached the top of the pay scale. Top-scale veterans will receive a $1,000 increase each year. Those raises amount to average pay increases of 2.7 percent a year.
A 10-year teacher with a master’s degree who earned $59,745 during the 2009-10 school year will earn $69,172 as a 14-year teacher in 2013-14 under the new contract, which translates into a 16 percent raise over five years.
The District 112 School Board said the settlement maintains a balanced budget without drawing on district reserves to pay the routine costs of operations.
North Shore District 112 last week released the settlement terms that ended the strike after both the North Shore Education Association and the School Board formally approved the agreement. The union ratified the contract on Nov. 14 and the School Board approved the contract Nov. 20.
One large sticking point was the district’s 11-lane salary schedule that has given teachers a pay upgrade once they’ve completed nine course hours, and awarded teachers well beyond a master’s degree with more frequent upgrades.
Teachers objected loudly to curtailing those raises, noting some had taken out student loans or borrowed against charge cards to pay for tuition with the expectation those pay raises would be coming.
In the interest of fairness, teachers who have completed coursework for lane advancement or are close to completion will receive those raises. But going forward, teachers in most cases will need to complete 18 additional course hours to advance another lane on the pay scale. After the current 2012-13 year, teachers can move only one lane every two years.
The District 112 School Board entered into negotiations resolved to challenge a long-entrenched pay system that has awarded teachers not yet at the top of the pay scale with two, if not three, raises a year. A citizens’ finance committee in early 2012 had concluded the district must address its key “cost drivers” — mainly salaries and benefits — in order to close a structural deficit that threatened to deplete reserves by 2017.
The North Shore Education Association pushed back, contending the district could ill afford to offer the worst compensation package among North Shore districts if it wanted to retain the high-caliber staff responsible for high student achievement.
Under the settlement, the School Board and the teachers’ union will form a joint committee to recommend alternatives to the current pay system. A joint committee also will develop standards for the kind of coursework that qualifies a teacher for a lane change and a higher level of pay.
The district serves about 4,300 pupils in Highland Park, Highwood and Fort Sheridan.