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Custodians in, but teachers still pending at D65

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The Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Board has reached agreement on a contract with its custodians, but not yet with its teachers.

The board Monday night approved a five-year contract with the Evanston Custodial/Maintenance Association that essentially provides modest salary increases to keep up with inflation.

In a news release Tuesday, district officials said that raises in contract years two through five are tied to the Consumer Price Index. It noted that the CPI also limits the amount of revenue the district receives in property taxes, due to tax caps.

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Highlights of the five-year agreement, which covers school years from the present until 2020-2021, include the following:

For the current year, a 2.5 percent bonus with no increase to base salary or step increase (advancement on the salary schedule with each year of service).

The next four years, the base salary increases by 50 percent of the CPI, never paying less than 1.5 percent or more than 2.5 percent.

Years 2018-2019 through 2020-2021 includes step increases.

Top-step stipends are available in all contract years for those who have reached the top of the salary schedule.

Union president Eddie Reeves labeled the new contract “a fair and equitable agreement” and noted that both sides made many concessions, “but what eventually resulted was a package we can all call reasonable.”

Meanwhile, negotiations with the teachers on a four-year contract to replace the one that ended in August, remain at a standstill.

The board did give on one demand, that planning time be increased for teachers, although District Educators’ Council President Paula Zelinski  said it was hardly enough to compensate for all the new demands being placed on teachers’ time, such as “multi-tiered systems of support, sharing circles, restorative justice, the K-5 literacy framework, readers’ workshop, ST math, and student learning objectives.”

The increased planning time, which district officials say will cost them an additional $640,000 annually, would come in Year Four of the four-year agreement.

In a letter to the district community, Board President Candance Chow and Superintendent Paul Goren said they made this “significant concession to respond to the priorities of D65 teachers who are committed to our children and to the teaching profession.”

Having made that concession, they urged DEC negotiators “to resolve the remaining issues so we can settle the contract as quickly as possible.”

DEC’s Zelinski responded that “when teachers hear that providing them with the planning time that they need to do their job is a ‘significant concession,’ they are understandably frustrated,” particularly when it is put off until the fourth year of the contract.

“Teachers are telling you what they need in order to better support students and classrooms,” she admonished. “Don’t just listen to them; take action.” 

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio stations and business-oriented magazines.

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