July 06--STERLING -- Teachers will have a "soft freeze" on wages, while new teachers will pay a greater percentage of family plan health insurance premiums under a 2-year contract approved Thursday by the Sterling school board.
The board also approved a contract for 125 support staff members Thursday.
The 5-0 votes -- with Gail Dancey and Terry McGuire absent -- came during a special meeting Thursday.
District Superintendent Tad Everett denied a Freedom of Information Act request by Sauk Valley Media for a copy of the teachers contract approved Thursday. He cited an exemption provision in the Act for preliminary first drafts. According to the meeting agenda, the board approved "a two-year collective bargaining agreement with the Sterling Education Association. ..." There is no indication that what was approved was a "preliminary first draft."
Everett said a final draft of the agreement will be posted on the district website after official wording is finalized.
The teachers union approved the contract June 18-19.
The district did provide a list of highlights in the teachers contract Thursday.
They included a "soft freeze," which means that wages remain the same, but teachers can increase their salary based on education and years of service.
The district also will no longer pay health insurance benefits for new part-time teachers. Newly retired staff also will not be allowed to buy into the district's health insurance plan.
All new teachers will pay for 50 percent of their family plan insurance premiums -- instead of the 27.5 percent paid by current teachers.
A retirement benefit also has been lessened. Teachers who have worked at least 20 full years in the district who give 2 years' notice to retire will be given 6 percent raises each of their last 2 years. Previously, they received 6 percent raises each of their last 4 years before retirement. Teachers must have worked toward earning an advanced degree to qualify for this benefit.
The board also approved a 2-year contract with about 125 support staff, who will receive raises of 35 cents an hour for the first year then have salaries frozen the second year.
Everett said he did not know how much the raises will cost the district, as Director of Finance Tim Schwingle was on vacation and not at the meeting Thursday.
Support staff also will pay more for insurance premiums. The percentage the district pays for individual plans will drop from 90 percent to 87.5 percent. For family plans, the percentage drops from 75 percent to 72.5 percent.
Deductibles will increase $50 for individual plans, and $100 for family plans.
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