Teachers in Lyons School District 103 and the school board both agreed to a new four-year contract earlier this fall. The new contract wasn’t signed and released to the public until December because of last-minute language reviews and tweaks.

The new contract gives District 103 teachers a flat 3 percent increase in base pay for all four years of the contract. 

“I think it’s fair,” said George Washington Middle School science teacher Toni Brandt, who is the president of the teachers union. “Whenever you negotiate, both sides have to give. And when both sides come out thinking that they both gave a little, you know it was good negotiation.”

However, many teachers, especially at GWMS, were not happy with the contract, believing the raises were inadequate given that salaries in the district lag many other neighboring school districts.

The teachers approved the contract by a margin of 17 votes, according to one teacher who asked not to be identified because Brandt had sent an email to teachers telling them not to disclose the vote margin to the district administration or others.

The starting salary for a new teacher with bachelor’s degree and no experience is very competitive at $44,481.26, about $5,000 more than the starting salary for such a teacher at Komarek School in North Riverside and almost as much as the $44,666 a new teacher with a bachelor’s degree makes at Riverside Elementary District 96. 

But experienced teachers fall behind with respect to compensation quickly in District 103.

A teacher with a master’s degree and 10 years’ experience earns $51,091.69 in District 103, compared to $69,234 for such a teacher in Riverside Elementary District 96.

The contract preserves step increases that some districts, such as Brookfield,-LaGrange Park District 95 and Komarek have eliminated. Stipends for extra duty, such as coaching or directing after-school activities, were also increased in the new contract. 

There were no major changes in health insurance in the new contract, according to school board President Marge Hubacek.

“I think it was a fair contract,” Hubacek said. “I think it was the best contract we could give them.”

The school board voted 4 to 1 to approve the contract at its Oct 22 meeting with board member Jorge Torres casting the only vote against it. 

“It was a give and take,” Hubacek said of the contract negotiations. “Neither side got everything they wanted, but I think it was a very good compromise.”

Hubacek and Sharon Anderson represented the school board, with the help of administrators and the district’s law firm, in the negotiations.

Superintendent search down to three candidates

After interviewing eight superintendent candidates on Dec. 12 and Dec. 13, the Lyons-Brookfield District 103 school board has narrowed its focus to three finalists.

Each of the finalists will spend a day in the district in mid-January. They will tour the district, visit schools, and be interviewed by three different committees: one consisting of teachers and other staff members, one consisting of principals and other administrators, and one consisting of parents from all the schools in the district. 

On the evening of their visit, each of the finalists will have a second interview with the school board in closed session. 

“We had some good candidates,” Hubacek said.

Names of the finalists will not be released.

Hubacek said six board members, all except for Michael Bennett whose wife had just had a baby, attended the interviews with the eight semifinalists. 

Each interview lasted for about 45 minutes to an hour. The eight semifinalists were chosen from a candidate pool of 31 people who completed applications for the superintendent’s job. 

Hubacek said that it wasn’t difficult to narrow the field down to the three finalists.

“I thought it was a good discussion we had; everybody was listened to,” Hubacek said.

Hubacek said the board hopes the board will vote to hire a new superintendent by the end of January. The new superintendent will likely not start work in District 103 until July 1.

Bob Skolnik