EFFINGHAM — The Effingham Unit District 40 Board of Education recently ratified the contract with the Effingham Education Support Professionals Association, ending a two-year period the support staff has been without a contract.

The agreement was for a four-year contract, an amount of time paraprofessional representative for Unit 40 and a member of the negotiating team Patty Keck said aligns with upcoming meetings for teachers and Unit 40.

"We agreed to a four year contract, which will keep us in the same year as the teachers for the next bargaining session in 2021," Keck said.

The agreement covers the July 1, 2017 date, which marked the first day the paraprofessionals were without a contract, through June 30, 2021. The sticking points for both sides, including insurance contributions from the district and wages for the support staff, were addressed in the agreement.

According to Unit 40 Superintendent Mark Doan, there will be a $30 increase per month in the district's paid portion of health insurance, or $360 per year. Therefore, Doan said, the district will cover the first $632, $639 or $822 toward the support staff's monthly health insurance premium, depending on the tier of insurance chosen by the staff member.

Keck said the district's increase in insurance payments will allow support staff employed for 12 months to spread out the cost of insurance over 12 months of pay rather than nine months.

As for wages, Doan said each non-certified employee will receive a 55 cent hourly increase in rate of pay for each year of the contract and receive pay back from the 2017 to 2018 and 2018 to 2019 school years. Keck said the 55 cent raise is the most the support staff has received in recent years.

In addition to the insurance and wage increases, Doan said multiple language items were agreed upon such as increased meal reimbursement levels, probationary period for new hires, call-in pay and licensing fees.

Doan said it took an effort from both sides to reach the agreement, and he thanked all involved in the negotiations.

"The district wishes to thank the EESPA bragaining team and members for their efforts in reaching a final agreement," Doan said.

Keck also thanked the district and IEA Uniserv Director Angela Williams and expressed content with the final agreement.

"Even though it took over a year to reach a settlement, EESPA is pleased with the final results," Keck said. "We want to thank our superintendent Mark Doan, Jason Fox and the Unit 40 school board for their efforts reaching a final agreement."

The contract includes support staff such as bus drivers, bus aides, cooks, paraprofessionals, secretaries, custodians, maintenance, mechanics, mechanic assistants, nurse paraprofessionals, library clerks and warehouse workers. These same support staff members are covered in similar contracts at area schools.

In Teutopolis Unit District 50's 2017-2018 contract with the support staff, the most recent available on the district's website, the Unit 50 school board agreed to pay $4,411 annually, or just over $367 monthly, toward the health insurance premium of support staff employees who are approved to work 30 or more hours per week and school bus drivers with regular routes driven for three or more hours a day.

Bus drivers, cooks, janitors and two-year and four-year aides were listed in a step salary schedule in which most of these employees will move on step every two years of employment.

The Altamont Unit 10 School District school board also pays a portion of the support staff's monthly insurance premium, according to a contract listed on the district's website. The contract states the board will pay a "specified amount" for full-time support employees, which will be the same as full-time certificated employees. Those who are part-time support staffs will be "prorated according to the number or regularly scheduled work hours per week," according to the contract; the specified amount for both full- and part-time support staffs was not listed.

Salary information was not available on the website, and an inquiry into the the wages was not answered. Insurance and wage information for Beecher City Unit 20 School District was not available at the time this story was written, and an email to the Dieterich Unit 30 School District was not answered.

Dawn Schabbing contributed to this report.

Kaitlin Cordes can be reached at kaitlin.cordes@effinghamdailynews.com or 217-347-7151 ext. 132.

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