Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Local News

March 27, 2014

Teutopolis board, teachers finalize two-year deal

TEUTOPOLIS — Teutopolis Unit 50 school officials released Thursday details of a two-year agreement between the school district and the Teutopolis Education Association teachers union.

In a joint news release, the Unit 50 board and TEA announced ratification of the deal — which came on the heels of sometimes heated negotiations that lasted off-and-on for months until a tentative deal was reached last week — hours before teachers were scheduled to strike. After a 17-minute executive session Thursday afternoon, the board voted unanimously to ratify the agreement. Teachers had earlier ratified the agreement, according to the joint news release.

The teachers had been working without a contract since last August. The two sides had most notably been hung up on the board's insistence that a two-tier salary schedule be adopted — and the teachers' equally adamant insistence that such a schedule was unfair. Under that proposal, new teachers would not receive annual raises at the same rate as senior teachers because of changes in the state's Teacher Retirement System.

Superintendent Bill Fritcher confirmed Thursday that the two-tier salary proposal was not part of the deal ratified earlier this week. Elements that are part of the deal include a salary increase for this year based on increases in the existing salary schedule, as well as a hard freeze on teacher salaries for the 2014-15 school year.

"This contract will help achieve one of the board's goals — to control salary costs in the short term in the face of unprecedented cuts in general state aid and other funding from the state of Illinois," said board president Marty Siemer.

TEA co-president Karen Smith expressed relief that the process was over.

"We are glad it is over and ready to finish the school year on a positive note," Smith said.

Fritcher, likewise, would like the school district to move on from the controversy and focus on student success.

"We have a strong educational system in place and we believe it is time to move forward in our district and put our emphasis back on the excellent education we provide to students," he said.

Bill Grimes may be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, at bill.grimes@effinghamdailynews.com, or via Twitter @EDNBGrimes.

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