Park Ridge-Niles Elementary District 64 released the following statement at about 8 p.m. Wednesday. We are posting it in its entirety.
School District 64 Board and Teachers Reach New Tentative Agreement; Longer Four-Year Term Offers “Stable Foundation”
Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 and the Park Ridge Education Association (PREA), the professional organization that represents the District’s teachers, have reached a tentative agreement on a new, four-year contract. The PREA membership is scheduled to vote September 18 on the contract; the Board of Education is expected to officially approve the agreement at its September 24 meeting.
This is only the second time a four-year agreement has been negotiated in at least 30 years. Talks spanned nine months and were assisted by a federal mediator over the summer; all Board members participated in the mediation.
“This longer agreement offers the Board and our teachers a stable foundation for planning while focusing on improvements in teaching and student learning,” according to Board President John Heyde. “We believe the new contract is respectful of the professional demands made on our teachers challenged with implementing new, more rigorous learning standards and the District’s strategic plan, while also reflecting the continuing lag in the economy’s turnaround and the financial commitments made to our community during the 2007 referendum campaign,” he added.
Terms of the contract include a base salary increase of 2.0 percent each year. The contract continues to provide “step” increases that vary based on a teacher’s experience and education, which average 1.6%. Employees also will continue to share in the cost of their health and dental insurance coverage, including sharing in any cost increases.
In addition, the Board and PREA agreed to form an ad hoc committee mid-way through the contract to discuss potential changes to the salary schedule and structure. “The committee will provide advice and guidance to the negotiating teams of the Board and PREA for their consideration during bargaining on the next contract,” Heyde noted.
Further, if the State of Illinois enacts a law that shifts all or part of the funding obligation for the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) from the State to school districts, the Board and PREA agreed to meet to consider the cost impact to the Board.
According to PREA President Erin Breen: “This agreement is a win for all stakeholders in the Park Ridge-Niles community. For the taxpayer, the solvency of the District will be maintained within the current revenue stream. Teachers will continue to share with the District the costs of rising medical premiums as well as conceding reductions in other fiscal benefits. For the wider community, the District 64 schools continue to make Park Ridge-Niles an attractive place to raise children. For the schools themselves, new working condition provisions enhance the teachers’ roles in the design of curriculum as well as in the shared responsibilities for leadership, innovation, and compliance with Senate Bill 7. Such participation promises economies in program implementation, but, more importantly, it also promises a brighter educational experience for each child in District 64. Finally, the contract provides an increase in compensation that recognizes cost of living increases along with overall increases in responsibilities for the teachers of District 64.”
District 64 employs about 380 full-time equivalent teachers; about 85 percent have master’s degrees or above and two-thirds have 11 or more years of experience. The District serves more than 4,300 students in grades K-8 at five elementary schools, two middle schools, and an early childhood center.