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Local

Making it official: Board finalizes Dixon teachers contract

DIXON — School board member Tom Lemoine said a switch went off during negotiations.

Sandi Sodergren-Baar, Dixon Education Association president, said in the last 5 hours of contract talks last week, "things just clicked."

Whatever it was, the board voted unanimously Wednesday to finalize a 4-year collective bargaining agreement that took a year to negotiate and prompted a teachers strike that canceled 9 days of classes.

The agreement came last week, but the deal became official Wednesday.

Board President Tom Balser told those in attendance at Reagan Middle School, "I'm thankful we're back in school."

Sodergren-Baar called the deal a good and sound one for both sides.

Members of the Dixon Education Association negotiating team, along with Balser and board member Kevin Sward, signed the agreement that gives pay increases in each of the next 4 years, has teachers paying more in health insurance and sets the expiration of a retirement bonus the day before the contract expires.

A standing ovation from the audience, mostly teachers, followed.

The mood was light and congenial: Union negotiator Dolph Ricks even presented Balser with an honorary membership certificate in the DEA.

Superintendent Michael Juenger said the focus has turned to educating students, including taking input from teachers to rectify textbook or special education issues.

"We're pleased this is behind us," Juenger said.

Nobody else spoke during the public comment period.

The board also approved an amended calendar. Initially, the district reported there would be no changes, however, the last day of student attendance has been moved to June 10.

High school graduation still is scheduled for June 1, but middle school promotion is tentatively moved to June 10.

Juenger said the district has informed parents, and will do so again. He also said no students will be penalized if they cannot attend school on calendar days affected by the strike.

Also Wednesday, the board decided to sell a 1987 Toro Groundmaster lawn mower, a 1994 Toro Groundmaster lawn mower, 1989 Chevy pickup with plow and 1997 Dodge maintenance van. It will advertise for bids, and could make anywhere from $1,500 to $4,000.

What's in the contract?

Salary:

Teachers will receive a 2 percent bonus within 31 days.

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

Teachers will receive a 1 percent increase in the final year, plus step increases.

Teachers at the highest step will receive a $1,000 payment this year and $1,500 in each of the next 3 years.

Health insurance:

No change 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.

Retirement:

Teachers will keep the 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.

Strike pay:

The district will make up 4 school days, for which teachers will be paid. They will not be paid for 4 days for participating in the strike.

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