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Pay hikes approved in District 161

Pay increases for all employees are now in place after actions were taken by the Flossmoor District 161 Board of Education at a special meeting Jan. 23.

Approved were raises for non-bargaining employees and new rates of pay for substitute teachers and lunch aides. These increases follow a new four-year agreement reached with teachers on Dec. 12.

The board and the Flossmoor Education Association (FEA) ratified a four-year pact that begins with the current 2016-17 school year. This year teachers will receive a 3.5 percent increase followed by a 3 percent increase the following year, 3.33 percent in the third year and a 3.25 percent increase in the fourth year of the contract. The increases include salaries, pay for extra duties and benefits.

“These percentage increases cover all new money the district is obligated to pay,” explained Frances LaBella, associate superintendent of business operations.


There was also a change in the teachers’ retirement package. LaBella said teachers who notify the district of their desire to retire in four years will receive annual 5 percent increases during their final four years of employment. The previous contract provided for annual raises of 6 percent leading to retirement.

LaBella said teachers who plan to retire in 2021 would have to notify the district by May 1 of this year.

“There were no other major changes; schedules and hours will stay the same,” LaBella said of the teacher’s agreement. “We had respectful negotiations. We all walked away with that respect even if there were certain things either side was not entirely happy with.”

Stephen Paredes, president of the Board of Education, described the contract as “an agreement, not a settlement. It’s important that everyone feels this is a win-win, as opposed to who gets the larger slices of the pie.”

With the four-year pact now signed, sealed and delivered, Paredes said, “This provides clarity. This agreement provides clear direction to the district. It’s hard to do planning without an agreement.”

The FEA said in a statement: “Through cooperative and collaborative communication representatives from both sides came to the bargaining table to reach a four-year agreement.”

While acknowledging that “negotiations can be difficult and frustrating for both sides,” the FEA also said, “The outcome of this process truly represents good faith bargaining. The FEA would like to thank the FEA bargaining team for all of their hard work and dedication as well as our administration and school board.”

In its statement, the FEA added, “It is our mission to continue to work collaboratively with the administration and the school board in order to provide our students with the best education possible.”

“It strengthens our relationship,” Paredes said. “This is a tool to build on.” 

At the Jan. 23 meeting, administrators and other non-bargaining employees, in positions such as district secretaries, were granted a 3.3 percent increase for one year.

Board members also approved new pay rates for substitute teachers in an effort to make District 161’s pay schedule competitive with other local districts that draw from the same pool of guest teachers.

Currently the district pays $85 to $105 per day for guest teachers, determined by the number of days they work in the district. LaBella explained that there is a state-wide shortage of substitute teachers due to new requirements. She said District 161 also has found it more difficult to hire substitutes since neighboring districts are paying $90 to $120 per day. The board approved a new pay schedule that includes substitutes in elementary schools receiving $95 through the first year of employment, which includes 45 days, and $100 per day for the second year and thereafter.

Substitutes at Parker Junior High will be paid $100 through the first year of employment and $110 per day beginning in the second year.

LaBella noted that there had been no increases for guest teachers the past 15 years.

Also approved were higher pay rates for lunch aides and paraprofessional substitutes. Their pay will increase by10 cents to $12.15 per hour.

The increases for substitute teachers, lunch aides and paraprofessional subs took effect as of Jan. 24.

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