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Commentary: Plainfield teachers reject contract

10/4/2017, 4:01 p.m.
Dawn Bullock, president the Association of Plainfield Teachers, said in a statement that 96% of the union’s members rejected the ...

Dawn Bullock, president the Association of Plainfield Teachers, said in a statement that 96% of the union’s members rejected the offer from the District 202 school board.

The Board’s last proposal still places our teachers below the 2010-2011 salary schedule. The average raise garnered by teachers is a 2.75% plus a one-time monetary offer of $250 for part time teachers or a $500 for full time teachers. This additional “signing bonus” does not compound nor does it equate to a 4% raise on our schedule. According to our calculations, there are 46 teachers that could have received 4% or higher; not the 80% as reported by Board President Greg Nichols. The salary offer by the Board would have placed only .25% new money onto the teacher’s salary schedule.

We are both surprised and disappointed with the threat regarding the retirement incentive as published most recently by Board President Greg Nichols. A teacher who has dedicated 34 years of their life teaching children is not eligible to ever receive social security benefits and the vast majority will never receive their spouse’s social security benefits. Affording teachers’ a retirement incentive positively impacts the salary schedule and honors the many years of service to children.

Again, these incentives not only save the district money, but have an immediate impact on the budget; which is curiously being reported as a deficit created by underreporting the percentage of General State Aid by 8% that was received and omitting a final categorical payment that the district will in fact receive. All of this despite the fact that Senate Bill 1947 will be awarding PSD202 with over $5 million additional funds for the 2017-2018 school year. The incentive is a district savings; plain and simple. To threaten to remove that incentive is not a fiscally responsible decision.

Finally, regarding our insurance, the teachers’ contract speaks to the premium percentage that each teacher is required to pay. While our premium percentage is a constant number and is not rising, the overall premium cost is set to increase. Despite Board President, Greg Nichols’ claim, our insurance cost is in fact going up and teachers will pay more beginning in January.

As of this writing APT has reached out to the Board requesting a date to continue negotiations. No strike vote has been taken.