Final approval of a new four-year contract between the Evanston/Skokie District 65 School Board and the District Educators’ Council (DEC), including a study on air-conditioning the classrooms, was confirmed by a 7-0 vote of the Board Monday night.
DEC President Jean Luft said the new agreement creates a joint task force to study the feasibility of daily fine arts instruction in the elementary schools “and includes a feasibility study on equipping all classrooms with air-conditioning.”
The lack of air-conditioning in the schools has long been looked upon as a major impediment in considerations for opening the schools on a year-round basis, or even for expanding the district's summer school programming.
On economic issues, the agreement includes a 1.5 percent bonus for most teachers in addition to normal “step” increases that are based on the number of years in the classroom.
Those at the top of the pay scale that no longer have step increases will receive a 2 percent bonus.
In the second and third years of the contract, teachers will receive a 1.5 percent increase in salary, plus step, and a 1.75 percent increase, plus step, in the fourth and final year.
The terms also include modest increases in teacher health insurance contributions, according to information supplied by the district.
The length of the student school day remains unchanged, although the contract clarifies the workload for teachers.
The middle school day consists of 10 periods, in which teachers teach for 6.5 periods and can volunteer for a seventh period with additional pay.
In addition, the amount of guaranteed planning time for elementary teachers is being increased.
Superintendent Hardy Murphy lauded the contract as one that “benefits our teachers, our students, parents, and the entire community. It is fair to all, and represents what we believe is in the best interests of the entire Evanston/Skokie School District 65.”
Luft told the Board that the new contract “improves several areas of the learning and working environment and also provides avenues for making future improvements.”
She noted that teaching has changed dramatically over the last two decades and that the new agreement reflects that changing environment.