D123 talking teachers' contract

By Laura Bollin

The Oak Lawn-Hometown School District 123 board of education met in closed session last week to discuss negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement with the district's teachers.

The special meeting was called by board president Joseph Sorrentino, who declined to comment on the negotiations but said the district wants to have a balanced budget by 2016. The current teachers' contract expires in August.

District 123 business manager Mike Loftin said the district has adopted two balanced budget since the 2007-08 school year - that year and again in 2008- 09. The district is projecting a short fall of $2 million for the 2012-13 l year, Loftin said.

Negotiations will be in regard to the district's 230 certified staff members including teachers, social workers and speech pathologists. All of those positions are part of the same salary schedule, Loftin said. First-year teachers with bachelor's degrees who started their careers at District 123 last school year made $42,012 last year and $44,912 this year, Loftin said. Projections for what a teacher who started working at District 123 this school year would make next year have not been finalized because the contract is under negotiation, Loftin said. The district's highest paid teacher, according to the salary schedule, would have to have a master's degree, 45 additional hours of continuing education or college credit courses and 34 years in the district. That teacher would make $101,626 according to the current contract, Loftin said.

The average salary for all certified staff positions is $68,000, and the annual salary increase for all union staff members is 5 percent, Loftin said.

The district expects to spend $15.1 million in salaries this year for its certified staff members. Teacher's aides will cost the district an additional $737,168, and technology aides will cost another $152,960. The district pays $3.1 million in medical benefits toward all of its staff members, Loftin said. Salaries and benefits make up 80 percent of the district's budget.