The Evergreen Park School District 124 Board of Education officially approved a three-year contract with the Evergreen Park Federation of Teachers during its regularly scheduled board meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019.
“The Board of Education is grateful that we were able to reach an agreement with the Union that both rewards our hardworking staff members, and makes the District attractive to prospective employees,” Board President Kim Leonard said. “I feel very strongly that the Board was able to uphold its responsibility of being good stewards of the taxpayers’ money, while also giving our teachers and paraprofessionals an increase that rewards their service to the students and school district.”
The contract gives District 124 teachers a salary increase of 14.5 percent over three years.
The average teacher salary in the District will increase to approximately $60,299 this year, to $62,999 in the 2020-2021 school year, and to $65,500 in the 2021-22 school year. The average teacher salary in the 2018-19 school year was $57,980. The approved contract also raises the starting salary for teachers beginning their career in D124 by nearly $5,500 over the same three-year period.
District 124 paraprofessionals will see an average pay rate increase of 31.5 percent, a $5 increase, over the course of the three-year agreement that results in an average hourly rate of $20.83. The pay rate of a paraprofessional just starting in the District increases by 35 percent, to $18.83 in the final year.
"We are so glad to have reached the light at the end of the tunnel. It was a long road, but we think we have a contract that is fair to our members, and that helps us provide our students with the education they deserve,” Union co-presidents Liz Babiarz and Tracy Bickham said.
The contract also establishes a new D124 Academy training program for teachers who are new to the District. The Academy will offer professional development opportunities that will help teachers familiarize themselves with District 124 and bring them up-to-date with the latest teaching methods being utilized across the District’s five schools.
“I am thrilled that the Union and the Board addressed the need for more staff professional development time in this contract,” D124 Superintendent Dr. Robert Machak said. “The Academy concept will go a long way in helping all of us as a District develop not only a common professional vocabulary, but also a shared philosophy of teaching and learning.”
Through the Academy, District 124 will have the opportunity to offer four classes or workshops to new teachers as they learn and grow in their first three years as educators in the District. Academy coursework will be based on the strategies developed through the District’s work with Visible Learning research that examines the ways in which we can have the greatest positive impact on student learning, such as: building collective teacher efficacy, student goal-setting, having high expectations for all learners, response to Intervention strategies, and developing personalized learning opportunities for all students.
“The D124 Academy will be a fantastic addition to the many resources that the District already has in place to support the continued professional growth of all of our certified and non-certified staff members,” Machak added.