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Teachers ratify new contract

Union gets raises, but will pay more for insurance; board to vote today

Published: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 6:30 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 2:11 p.m. CDT

DIXON – Teachers ratified a contract agreement Tuesday with pay increases in each of the 4 years, higher payments for health insurance and continuation of the retirement perk.

The Dixon School Board will vote on the contract at 6:30 p.m. today at Reagan Middle School to make the deal final.

Click here to see the contract

In it, all teachers will receive a 2 percent bonus within 31 days of the contract’s ratification for this school year.

In the next 2 years, teachers will receive a 2 percent increase, plus step increases, which average to about 2 percent for some teachers, based on experience and education.

In the final year of the contract, teachers will receive a 1 percent increase, plus step increases.

Teachers who have maximized their steps will receive a $1,000 payment this year and $1,500 in each of the next three years.

Teachers also will see no change in their health insurance for the first year. In the next 3 years, teachers with single coverage will pay 13 percent of the premium with a cap of $80 per month in the final year; teachers with family coverage will pay 14 percent with a cap of $230 per month in the final year.

Teachers will keep the bonus of 4 percent pay increases in each of their last 4 years before retirement, however, the contract says the benefit will be deleted from the contract on the day prior to its expiration.

Teachers have been working without a contract since August. The school board and teachers reached an agreement last week that sent students back to school after a strike canceled 9 days of classes.

The board and the union agreed to make up 4 school days, for which teachers will be paid. They will be docked 4 days for participating in the strike. One strike day was considered an emergency day because of adverse weather.

Sandi Sodergren-Baar, union president, said she would comment on the contract after the board finalizes it today.

Superintendent Michael Juenger was unable to be reached for comment Tuesday.

What is in the contract?

Regarding class sizes and textbooks:

— The Dixon Education Association gained four members on the Professional Relations Committee, going from one member to five. This committee discusses matters relating to class sizes, curriculum and instruction, classroom resources, student discipline, professional development and safety. It now consists now of the superintendent, one administrator, a board member, the DEA president, the DEA vice president and a DEA member from each school building.

— The contract now includes language that says the district must follow state guidelines with students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment in accordance with each student's Individual Education Plan. Even though this is new to the contract, it has been the common practice of the district, as required by state law.

— A joint advisory committee was created with six board representatives and six union representatives to discuss any teacher concerns with special education, or working conditions in relation to special education.

Tuition reimbursement:

— Teachers with less than a master’s degree will be eligible for reimbursement up to $1,300 per school year for continuing education, up from $1,250. Teachers with a master’s will be eligible for up to $500 per school year, down from $850.

School day and calendar:

— The length of the workday for all teachers will be 7 hours, 20 minutes, with teachers beginning their day no less than 10 minutes before the start of the student attendance day. The last 40 minutes of the workday shall be used for professional learning communities, faculty meetings, meeting with parents and students, and planning and collaboration with colleagues.

— Parent-teacher conferences will be held on two evenings for 3 1/2 hours each evening.

— The school calendar will not exceed 180 days.

— Summer school pay will go up from $32.50 per hour to $33 this year, $34 in 2013-2014, $35 in 2014-2015 and $36 in 2015-2016.

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