The teachers union at Lyons Township High School and the District 204 board of education on June 21 agreed on a new five-year contract that for the first time ties raises to district revenues.

Instead of fixed increases in base salary on an annual basis, raises for teachers in the new contract are connected to the consumer price index, which is used each year to determine how much governmental bodies can raise taxes. In Illinois such tax increases are capped at 5 percent but in recent non-inflationary years have been set substantially lower. Since 2000, the CPI has averaged about 2.5 percent, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics.

The agreement, which expires Aug. 31, 2015, is both fair to the district and teachers, according to District 204 Superintendent Tim Kilrea and negotiations were “collaborative,” he said. The board of education received its wish to tie salary raises to revenues. At the same time the contract is also a good deal for teachers, providing raises in base salary in four of the five years. Teachers also get step raises on top of the increases in base salary in all five years of the deal.

“We have a professional staff, but we have to pay close attention to external concerns,” Kilrea said. “And we’ve done that. It shows our board is paying attention.

“The board negotiated a fair contract,” he added. “It allows teachers to be competitive in the marketplace and allows us to get the very best teachers at LT.”

According to the terms of the contract, the base salary for teachers will be frozen for the 2010-11 school year. In the second year of the contract the base salary increase will be 90 percent of the CPI, which amounts to 2.43 percent, according to district spokeswoman Jennifer Bialobok.

In years three, four and five of the contract, base pay will increase by 80 percent of the CPI. Since the CPI for those years is unknown at this time, the contract states that those increases will be not less than 1.5 percent nor greater than 2.9 percent.

None of those numbers mean that individual teachers’ salary increases will be simply tied to the CPI. Because full-time teachers also receive step raises, individual salary increases in the 2010-11 school year will be about 4 percent while raises in 2011-12 will be closer to 6.5 percent.

However, said Kilrea, that doesn’t mean the schools line item for teacher salaries in the 2010-11 budget will be going up 4 percent. Through attrition, whether because of retirements or other reasons for leaving, the school is expected to spend 0.3 percent less on teacher salaries in 2010-11 than it did for the most recent school year. In 2011-12, on the other hand, the line item for teacher salaries is expected to rise to 5 percent, a total of about $1.1 million.

For 2010-11, the base salary for a new teacher with a bachelor’s degree will be $51,185. A first-year teacher with a master’s degree will make $55,279. In 2011-12, those base salaries will increase to $52,428 and $56,623 respectively.

As for health insurance premiums, teachers will pay 20 percent of premiums for individual, couple or family coverage to be enrolled in the PPO plan for the 2010-11 school year. During the other four years of the contract, employees will have to pay 22 percent of health insurance premiums. Coverage can extend to the teacher’s spouse, unmarried children under the age of 25 (provided the child is a full-time student or qualifies as a dependent) and to same-sex domestic partners.

Retired teachers are eligible to receive from the district fully paid individual heath insurance coverage until that teacher is eligible for Medicare.

Teachers with seven consecutive years of full-time employment or teachers with at least nine years of employment can apply for paid sabbatical leave for one or two semesters “for the purpose of advanced study or travel which will benefit the certified employee, the school and students of the district,” according to the contract.

Once back from that sabbatical, the teacher has to work at least two more years or reimburse the district for salary and benefits earned during the sabbatical.