BY CARL GREEN
Alton, IL – Alton teachers agreed to a compromise contract offer on April 20, avoiding a strike they had earlier voted to approve.
The Alton Education Association (AEA) teachers’ union voted 80 percent to accept the latest tentative contract agreement, but not without expressing some concern about salaries.
“While the membership of AEA believed that the final board salary proposal was inadequate, they recognized that these negotiations have consumed nearly a year of their time and energy and distracted from their district duties and responsibilities,” union negotiator Jason Chapman said after the vote.
He added, “The affirmative vote should be seen as a strong desire to end this school year on a positive note and to begin the next school year under contract so that their focus can be directed toward the students and their jobs.”
A $500 RAISE
The offer includes a $500 raise plus annual step increases in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years for certified teaching staff. That’s $100 more than the district had offered, but $300 less than the teachers had sought.
It also offers 50 cents more an hour for non-certified employees, 10 cents higher than the district had offered but 15 cents less than the union had sought.
“I am very thankful to our teachers and staff for the professionalism and patience they have displayed over the past eight months as we worked toward an agreement,” he said.
The union membership voted by 68 percent on March 22 to reject the previous offer.
The union represents 710 of the district’s 770 staff members. The district has about 6,400 students. First-year teachers presently earn $35,148, lower than the state median of $38,200. The district has blamed the poor salaries on the state’s failure to adequately fund schools – by $12 million to the Alton district alone.