Toni Jackman has headed the teachers union at District 103 for 16 years. She is stepping down in anticipation of her own retirement in two years. (Bob Skolnik/Contributor)

Teachers in Lyons School District 103 have a new contract. 

On July 26 the District 103 school board voted 4 to 0, with three members absent, to approve a new three-year contract for teachers. The contract includes four percent raises in base pay for the first two years of the contract and a 3.75 percent increase in base pay in the third and final year in the contract. Actual year over year pay increases will be greater than the increase in base pay as step increases also boost teacher pay. Teachers are also getting increases in their stipends for extra duty work for the first time in four years.

Teachers will pay a bit more for their health insurance with the share of the premium that teachers are responsible for rising to 12 percent from 10 percent. Teachers in District 103 are covered by a PPO plan with a Health Savings Account component. The district contributes $1,500 annually to the health savings account for a teacher with the single plan and $3,000 annually for a teacher with the family plan. The district and staff will equally split the cost of any health insurance annual premium increase of more than seven percent.

The starting pay for a new teacher with a bachelor’s degree and no experience will now be $48,147. A teacher with a master’s degree and 10 years of experience will make $55,397. this year. A teacher with 30 hours of graduate credit beyond a master’s degree and 20 years of experience will now earn $73,896.

It took more than seven months of negotiation to hammer out the agreement.

“It was not confrontational,” said Superintendent Kristofer Rivera.

Rivera praised the teachers union negotiators.

“They were very collaborative in the structures set for the district such as planning periods and things that enhance student learning,” Rivera said.

The contract was sort of a last hurrah for Toni Jackman, a seventh grade science teacher at George Washington Middle School and the president of the teachers union until this summer. 

“We don’t bring it to our members unless we’re pretty satisfied,” Jackman said. “When you bargain a contract, you go in with high hopes that you’re going to get everything you want, but that’s not how bargaining works. Everybody ends up a little unhappy but, in the end, I think we were pretty satisfied. The raises are higher than all the years of the last contract so we were pretty happy with that.”

Jackman declined to reveal what the vote was among teachers to ratify the contract.

“Our members are petty satisfied,” Jackman said. “We don’t really give out exact numbers, we don’t even tell the district the exact numbers. I can tell you that it takes a majority to ratify and we got more than that.”

Jackman stepped down from the position of union president after leading the District 103 teachers union for 16 years because she will be retiring as a teacher in two years.

“It was mostly because of that,” said Jackman of her decision not to seek another term as union president. “Our election cycle is every two years and I wanted to make sure that I left the union in good hands and there were people there in the role of leadership who could help our union become stronger.”

The new president of the teachers union is Kerry Palider, a speech pathologist at Lincoln School.

Jackman has been a strong union president. She stood up for her union members and was not shy about speaking during the public comment period at school board meetings to air concerns and to advance the interests of teachers. She was not afraid to criticize the school board or the administration and when she spoke she often had a roomful of teachers standing in solidarity behind her.

She was respected by the administrators she dealt with.

The union will likely be seen as less a one person show with Jackman stepping down which she says will be a good thing.

“The membership relied on me as an individual to solve a lot of problems,” Jackman said. “I think change is a good thing and I am certain that Kerry and her team are going to carry the membership into even better days.