D86 teachers, board sign two-year deal

Negotiations would have ended last year had they not been interrupted by pandemic

Teachers in Hinsdale High School District 86 have a new two-year contract that grants them an average annual increase — including benefits — of 1.89 percent a year.

The school board approved the contract 7-0 at its Jan. 28 meeting. Members of the Hinsdale High School Teachers Association had ratified the agreement earlier that day.

“The board of education, district administration and Hinsdale High School Teachers Association are pleased to announced that we have reached an agreement on a new teacher contract,” a joint statement on the new contract states. “Our work on this critical endeavor during the past two years has strengthened our partnership and mutual respect for each other.”

The base salary will increase each year of the contract in accordance with the consumer price index. The increase for the 2020-21 school year, which will be paid retroactively, will be 25 percent of the CPI, or .48 percent. The increase for the second year will be 75 percent of the CPI or 1.73 percent.

That means a teacher with a bachelor’s degree and no experience who earned $39,520 in 2019-20 will earn $40,172 this year and $41,234 next year. On the high end of the salary schedule, a teacher with a master’s degree and 60 hours of education will be paid $136,856 this year and $139,217 next year.

Medical and dental insurance benefits will not change, with costs for the district increasing 2.8 percent over the two-year deal.

Teachers who declare their intent to retire will receive a 6 percent increase each of their last four years, according to this agreement. In the current contract, teachers were guaranteed a 3 percent increase. In exchange for this benefit, the district will no longer reimburse retired teachers for the premiums they pay for the Teacher Retirement Insurance Program, according to Josh Stephenson, chief financial officer.

The salary increase will cost the district $444,500 over the two years. Full savings will not be realized until retired teachers cycle off TRIP insurance for Medicare.

He said if the state decides to shift pension costs to districts, it likely will involve contributions for current employees, not retired ones. He acknowledged the move shifts costs from the district to the state as a whole.

“Depending on what lens you look at this under, it could be favorable or not favorable,” he said. “Financially it’s more favorable for the taxpayers of District 86. For the taxpayers of the state, it’s not as favorable.”

The last contract the board and association approved in 2016 was for four years. A two-year agreement makes more sense at this time, according to the joint statement.

“In discussing the different options that were available, we concluded that a short-term contract would be more prudent and practical at this time, given the budgetary issues here in Illinois and the financial uncertainty created by COVID-19,” it reads. “Not only will this agreement enable us to recognize the vital and valuable contribution of our teachers, it will also help us navigate the current economic challenges at the state and national levels and fulfill our responsibility as fiscal stewards for the community.”

The total costs of the contract is almost $52 million this year and $53.1 million next year, compared to $51.1 million in 2019-20 in the last contract, which expired in June.

A new contract for teachers would have been in place last year had circumstances been different, said board member Kathleen Hirsman, who was also on the negotiating team.

“I know many in the community are wondering what took so long. We had this little thing called the pandemic which got in the way,” she said.

Board President Kevin Camden agreed.

“We had the big meeting scheduled for April, and but for COVID, we would have concluded it in April,” he said.

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean