The Brookfield-LaGrange Park Elementary School District 95 Board of Education ratified a new five-year contract with its teachers last week. 

The new contract, approved unanimously by the school board on June 12, gives teachers a 1.5 percent raise for the 2014-15 school year. In addition, in 2014-15 teachers will receive a bonus of $500 for every year worked in the district since 2010, subject to a maximum bonus of $2,000.

In the last four years of the contract, raises will be tied to the consumer price index (CPI). For the 2015-16, and 2016-17 school years teachers will be receive a raise equal to the CPI, but not exceed 5 percent or be less than 1.75 percent. In the final two years of the contract, teachers raises will also be equal to CPI, but not to exceed 5 percent or be less than 2 percent.

In 2010 District 95 eliminated step increases for teachers; this contract continues that policy.

“It was a very positive negotiation,” said District 95 Superintendent Mark Kuzniewski. “It was done in a very collaborative manner. I think that it speaks volumes to the work that the union, the administration and board have done to prepare for this. It’s a fair contract for both the district and the teachers.”

Lynda Nadkarni, the co-president of the teachers union in District 95 agreed.

“We really did work together for a contract that was good for the teachers and for the district,” Nadkarni said.

Under the new contract, the starting salary in 2014-15 for a first-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree will be $40,817. 

The contract didn’t take long to negotiate. Talks began in April and were wrapped up after just three sessions.

“It’s because we did so much ground work ahead of time,” Nadkarni said.

School board president Lynn Waterloo and board members John LaBarbera and Chris Blackburn made up the school board’s negotiating team. 

In the current four year contract coming to an end this month teachers received raises of 90 or 95 percent of CPI so teachers were happy to get full CPI raises this time around, at least in the final four years of the contract.

“We got full CPI this time for the last four years of the contract,” said Jon Burke, the other co-president of teachers union in District 95.

A new feature of the contract is that teachers who earn national board certification will have $1,000 added to their base salary. Teachers continue to get raises for specified amounts of graduate education and for obtaining a master’s degree.

“There’s definitely encouragement on behalf of the board to have teachers continue to be educated and to reward them financially,” Nadkarni said. 

Other tweaks to the contract include the elimination of district-paid health insurance for retirees in the first five years of their retirement. In addition, the structure of a lump-sum payment to retiring teachers was changed from a 14-percent-of-salary payment upon retirement to a payment of $1,000 per year of service to the district with a cap of $20,000.  

Health benefits remain the same, with the district paying 85 percent of the premium of PPO coverage for a single person and 100 percent of the premium for single coverage in an HMO plan. The district will also pay the entire premium for an employee’s dental insurance.

Tech director hired

In other action, the school board on June 12 also approved hiring the district’s first technology director. 

The board hired Robert Bowe, 46, who is currently the academic technology coordinator for the College of Education at National Louis University. Bowe, who has a doctorate in education from National Louis University, will be paid $65,000 a year.

Bowe has worked at National Louis since 2000. Before that he spent two years as the technology coordinator in Sunset Ridge District 29 and eight years as a teacher and then technology coordinator at LaGrange Highlands School District 106.

Bowe said that he is excited to be returning to elementary education.

“Being able to create an infrastructure that allows students to seamlessly use technology for their academic goals, and the teacher’s academic goals, is really what I enjoy seeing,” Bowe said. “I’m really excited to have that direct contract with the students and teachers.”

Bowe already has his first assignment. At last week’s school board meeting it was revealed that the district does not have a way to quickly send out a mass email to all district parents.