ADDISON – The Addison Teachers Association has a new contract after nine months of negotiations.
"Everybody seems to have the same goal out there, but everybody when you have more diverse personalities you all look at it in a different way," said Carol Cisko, an ATA Co-President and English Language Learner resource teacher at Army Trail School.
The District 4 Board of Education voted Wednesday to approve the new contract after ATA members voted in favor of it Tuesday.
The new contract expires July of 2016 and includes salary increases and six additional non-instructional half days per year for collaboration, curriculum development, professional learning and growth, and improving professional practice.
"Salary is always a big issue. It's the bottom line that people take home," said District 4 Superintendent John Langton.
The new agreement also modifies the premium costs for health benefits, increases extra duty pay from $25 to $28 per hour, adds maximums to class-size guidelines, and provides new evaluation guidelines following Illinois' Performance Evaluation Reform Act.
The contract came five months after the ATA voted down the first tentative agreement with 94 percent opposed in May.
The ATA represents 276 teachers and licensed professionals like nurses, aides and social workers that work throughout the district's eight schools. The diversity of their job responsibilities made negotiations difficult.
"If every member had the same type of schedule and the same type of kid and the same type of challenges, bargaining for them would be easy," Langton said.
Langton, Cisko and fellow ATA Co-President Tammy Bognetti all agreed that negotiating within their teams was, at times, more challenging than with each other because of the diverse personalities and circumstances between members. While she understands how personal issues like salary can be for individuals during tough economic times, Cisko and Bognetti did not take the negotiation process personally.
"No matter what, even if we had to put the boxing gloves on we would have come out afterwards and been OK with it," Cisko said about their professional relationship with district administration.
Representatives on both sides of the negotiations are thankful to have reached an agreement, but they still know it's not what everyone wanted. In fact it's just barely what most would accept.
"Our work right now though is cut out for us because we have a very split staff," Cisko said.
"This agreement that we have right now, I'm going to be very honest, it was very close, but we went from a 94 percent 'no' to a 49 percent 'no.'"
Getting an agreement that the district supported and that satisfied just over half of the ATA members did require the assistance of a federal mediator, but ATA members never formally threatened a strike.
"We were prepared to do that, but we were hoping that we did not have to do that," said Bognetti, who teaches second grade at Wesley School.
While negotiations continued between the ATA and members of the Board of Education and district administration, ATA members continued to operate under the previous contract even though it had expired.
Representatives from both negotiation teams feel confident that even though nearly half of the ATA members did not support the contract, they can move forward from the negotiations.
"We're proud that we're able to maintain productive relationships with the community, and we're committed to continue working together," Langton said.