D65 OKs five-year deal with teachers

Meg Krulee, president of the District 65 teachers union, speaking to the board Monday night.

Evanston School District 65 officials this afternoon released summary information on new five-year contract agreements with teachers and paraprofessionals that a spokesperson says will add $1.2 million in expenses over its term beyond increases the district had already baked into its budget planning for those years.

Teachers in the district now have an average salary of $80,309. Under the agreement they would see cost of living increases of 2.1 percent this fall and 1.9 percent in the second year of the contract.

The latest figures from the federal government show the consumer price index rose 2 percent over the past 12 months.

For the third through fifth years of the agreement they will get cost of living increases that match the consumer price increase, but with floors and ceilings that vary somewhat from year to year. For the final year of the deal the range is from 1.5 percent to 2.65 percent.

The teachers will continue to get experience-based step increases and continuing-education-based track movement increases during the new contract.

Superintendent Paul Goren, Board President Suni Kartha and teacher union President Meg Krulee noted in a joint statement that this is the first time in more than a decade that a teacher contract has been signed before the start of school in the fall.

The agreement was approved by union members last week with 98 percent voting in favor of it.

The agreement with the teacher assistants association provides bigger percentage increases than the teachers will receive, with the board's bargaining team acknowledging that paraprofessionals in District 65  "were underpaid compared to peer districts."

They will receive a 6 percent base pay increase in each year of the agreement and will also get step increases. Those who've reached the top of the salary scale will also receive a "top step" lump sum bonus ranging from 5.5 percent to 8 percent based on how long they've been at the top of the scale.

The teacher assistants voted unanimously in favor of the deal.

The school board approved both agreements Monday night.

Salaries account for two thirds of the district's expenses, and budget projections from earlier this year show the district running a nearly $7 million annual deficit by the final year of the contract after running through all the reserves generated by the referendum voters approved two years ago.

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