Teacher contract sees ‘more harmonious’ future

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In their new four-year contract, the new leadership of both the Chicago Teachers Union and the School Reform Board of Trustees pledge to find a new, “more orderly, harmonious and effective” way of doing business together.

The collective bargaining process, they say, needs “fundamental change.”

The contract singles out a number of controversial issues that the new bargaining process will address, including class size and staffing, special education, the high school day, violence in schools and tying pay to performance. Since new state law prohibits negotiations in these areas, the contract provides that these issues will be addressed “without limiting or waiving the board’s rights under the law.”

Paul Vallas, the system’s new chief executive officer, called the teachers union the administration’s “new ally” in improving schools.

The contract provides annual pay raises of about 3 percent but, otherwise, looks much like the old contract. The rates of increase run slightly below statewide averages for the last five years.

This school year, a beginning teacher with a bachelor’s degree will make $30,754 for 40 weeks of work. In September 1998, beginning pay will jump to $33,810.

The pay for a teacher with a master’s degree and 10 years of experience will be $47,129; by September 1998, it will rise to $51,813.

Top pay—for teachers with 12 years of experience and a doctoral degree—will rise from $54,718 to $60,156.

Beginning teachers who work a full calendar year will make $37,169 this year and $40,863 by September 1998. Top pay for 52-week teachers will rise from $63,589 this year to $72,704 in 1998.

Beginning pay for school clerks working 40 weeks will rise from $21,932 to $24,111. Top pay—for clerks with 21 years experience—will rise from $29,650 to $32,596.

Under a “contingency clause,” the union may void the contract if the board doesn’t have enough money to pay for the raises.

Other new provisions are:

PEER REVIEW The board and union will develop a peer evaluation program to be implemented in 1996-97.

SCHOOL DAY In elementary schools, a regular school day will not exceed 6 hours and 45 minutes. This provision is meant to ensure that teachers get paid extra for working longer. Approval from a majority of a school’s classroom teachers is required to change the regular hours of 8:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.