District 123 teachers get four-year deal

Raises will be between 7 percent and 10 percent over lfe of contract

By Laura Bollin

The Oak Lawn-Hometown District 123 board of education and the Oak Lawn-Hometown Federation of Teachers Local 943 have agreed to a four-year collective bargaining agreement that will grant certified employees minimum raises of 7 percent over the length of the deal.

The agreement includes the district’s 350 certified teachers and non-certified staff members such as teacher aides, secretaries, custodians and maintenance personnel. The deal was ratified March 19 and will be effective from July 1 through June 30, 2017 for non-certified employees and Aug. 16 to Aug. 15, 2017 for certified employees.

District 123 business manager Mike Loftin said salaries for the 2013-14 year represent 80 percent of the district’s budget; the district will pay $15.3 million in salaries and benefits next year. The approved 1 percent salary increase for teachers next school year will cost the district $151,000. For the remaining three years of the contract, teachers will get salary increases based on the CPI, with a floor of 2 percent and a ceiling of 3 percent. The average teacher salary in District 123 is $56,200 this year.

Non-certified staff members’ raises will also be based on the CPI, with a floor of 2 percent and a ceiling of 3 percent, and an additional 1 percent increase over the certified increase.

Staff members can earn a higher salary if they earn additional graduate education credit hours. The district this year employs 48 teachers who earned 15 or more graduate credit hours, for an average additional salary increase of $2,500.

Board president Joseph Sorrentino said contract negotiations went well and that an agreement was reached after seven meetings. The new contract will help the district stay fiscally responsible, he said.

“We needed to stay within the confines of our finances,” Sorrentino said. “We told the union we were not going to balance the budget off the backs of this contract, but we needed to make some significant changes from previous increases. We wanted to be more aligned with the consumer price index, rather than an arbitrary increase, which we have done in previous years.”

Oak Lawn-Hometown Federation of Teachers Local 943 council president Elaine Barlos agreed that everything was done amicably and in a financially responsible way.

“Our district was deficit-spending,” Barlos said. “They were still spending even though they did not have a balanced budget. They did not want to severely chop any programs or do layoffs. They came to a reasonable budget plan which worked well, because there were no big layoffs. We wanted to keep our jobs.”