By Thomas Vogel
The River Forest District 90 Board of Education, at its June 19 meeting, approved a three-year contract with the River Forest Education Association. The deal, which began this month, runs through August 2020.
For the 2017-2018 school year, teachers will receive a 2.1 percent bump, which is equivalent to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). For 2018-2019, the pay raise will be tied to the CPI, "with a floor of 3% and a ceiling of 5%," according to the 39-page agreement. That negotiated increase is the same in the final year of the deal.
District 90 Chief Financial Officer Anthony Cozzi said open communication and a good relationship between the teachers' union and district leadership meant there weren't many surprises when the formal negotiation process started in March 2017.
"The utmost priority was to continue our really good relationship with the RFEA," said Cozzi, who was part of the district's negotiating team. "It's always been cordial and like-minded. We've always had swift negotiation periods."
"The three-year agreement recognizes the value we place on our faculty and acknowledges their significant contributions to the district's instructional accomplishments," said D90 Board of Education President Ralph Martire in an Aug. 16 press release. "At the same time, the agreement also demonstrates the district's commitment to responsible financial stewardship of taxpayer resources."
"The bargaining teams for the teachers and the board put forth a great deal of effort to establish an agreement that recognizes the needs of both sides," Eileen Lewis, RFEA co-president wrote in an Aug. 20 email to Wednesday Journal. "District 90 teachers are generally pleased with the contract and appreciate the support received from the board."
As with past agreements over roughly the last 20 years, there are no so-called "step" raises included in the deal, which tie teacher compensation to "employee longevity."
Also included in the contract is more specific language related for professional development days, called Thursday Meetings, Cozzi said. Teachers will now receive a stipend for those meetings, which help them "develop and align instructional lessons, analyze student data, and reflect on instructional practices," according to the Aug. 16 district press release.
Answer Book 2018
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