The first negotiating session between the District 208 school board and the Riverside Brookfield Education Association on March 20 produced an agreement. Not on a new contract, but the two sides did sign a memo of understanding about how often to pay teachers and educational support personnel their salary and stipends.

Past practice has been to pay teachers their final five paychecks of the on the last day of the school, and then not pay teachers again until the new school year begins. Starting July 1 the district will pay teachers and other employees twice a month throughout the calendar year.

“For some reason we’ve gotten away from the contract, and the last day of school teachers would get five paychecks,” said District 208 superintendent Kevin Skinkis. “Technically their pay is spread throughout the whole summer, and I bet this started a few years back when there was no direct deposit to eliminate having people having to come in and gather paychecks.”

Former teacher Jan Goldberg said that when she started at Riverside-Brookfield High School, teachers would have to give the business office five stamped, self-addressed envelopes at the end of the school year so that their paychecks could be mailed to them during the summer. Goldberg did not recall exactly when the practice of paying teachers five weeks of pay on the last day of school began.

The contract between the district and teachers calls for employees to be paid twice each month.

The new memo of understanding also changes how extra-duty stipends, such as for coaching, are paid. Presently, extra-duty stipends are paid in equal installments throughout the school year. The new policy calls for faculty to be paid only during the time the stipend is earned.

For example, the baseball coach will be paid his stipend in the spring instead of throughout the year. This will make the stipends easier to administer. Under the past practice, sometimes a coach would be paid some of his stipend and then quit his position before the season started. The school would have to have to be reimbursed the part of the stipend that had already been paid.

“The superintendent presented the concern with the current payroll process to the RBEA,” said District 208 school board President Matt Sinde in a press release the district issued on Friday. “There were some concerns with the frequency of pay periods and how extra duty stipends were being paid out.

“The RBEA executive board and Dr. Skinkis were able to collaboratively draft an agreement that addressed all the concerns. Mr. Monahan (RBEA welfare committee chairman) and I formalized the agreement via signatures during the negotiation session on Wednesday.”

According to the press release, a tentative agreement was also reached on some grammatical and general language edits to the existing teachers’ contract.

The general tone of the meeting appeared to be good, according to the press release.

“Both the RBEA and board of education were pleased with the discussions that occurred at the initial meeting,” the press release said.

Further negotiating sessions are scheduled throughout the summer as the two sides will begin to grapple with the more difficult core issues of pay and benefits.