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District 153 and teachers agree on new contract

Homewood School District 153 and the Homewood Education Association (HEA) have reached an agreement on a five-year contract that includes salary raises for teachers and staff.
HEA approved the agreement on June 2. The District 153 board ratified it on June 7. 

Board President Shelly Marks characterized negotiations as positive and collegial. 

“Thanks to the strong partnership we have with staff, District 153 now has a crucial piece in place to help us plan better for the future,” Marks said. “This contract balances our needs to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars and to invest in the great teaching our community has come to expect from us.” 

HEA official Cheri Pesina said the organization was pleased with the contract and the negotiations that produced it.


“Our HEA membership was incredibly pleased with our new professional negotiations agreement, as was evident by the 169-7 vote,” she said. “For years, many of our district staff were either on a pay freeze or receiving CPI (consumer price index raises), due to lack of funding from the state of Illinois. The salary increases and tuition reimbursement for all staff were much needed and appreciated.  This allows us to be competitive with surrounding districts and retain and attract the type of teachers that will provide the quality education that Homewood is known for.”

Pestina thanked lead HEA negotiator Maureen Daley for her work on the contract.

The school district’s operating budget will see an annual net increase of about 3.1 percent over the five-year life of the contract. 

The new contract reinstates teacher salary schedules. Certified staff will see an average 5.5 percent increase in year one, a 5 percent increase in years two and three and a 4.5 percent increase in years four and five. Non-certified support staff will receive from 7 to 8 percent raises, depending on the job, in the first year and anywhere from 5 to 6 percent raises in years two through five. 

“The new salary schedule will enable District 153 to be competitive in the region,” said Superintendent Dale Mitchell. “Our amazing staff is our most important asset. It’s important that they are compensated fairly.” 

Beyond a small decrease in employee insurance premiums, no substantial changes were made to health insurance benefits and retirement incentives. 

According to Mitchell, the additional cost of the contract is partially offset by retirements and are in line with the financial projections presented to taxpayers during the 2016 referendum campaign. 

“What we did not project is a third straight year without a state budget,” Mitchell said. “The lack of a state budget makes financial planning for school districts impossible as we don’t know what revenues to expect. We continue to be very concerned about funding.” 

As of June 1, the State of Illinois owed District 153 about $900,000 in back payments for such things as transportation, special education and early childhood education. 

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