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Board approves support staff agreement

BARRINGTON – The Barrington 220 school board met Monday at Barrington Middle School’s Station Campus to approve a three-year contract for district support staff and continue discussion of digital age learning.

After what board member Wendy Farley called a “good, well-thought-out negotiation process,” the board approved a Barrington School District Employee Organization contract to replace the previous agreement that expired July 1.

Under the new agreement, to extend to June 30, 2016, district support staff – administrative assistants, computer technicians, maintenance and custodial workers, campus attendants and classroom aides – will receive a 2 percent pay increase per year. The contract also caps the school district’s exposure to rising health care costs in the future, according to a statement released by the district.

President Brian Battle said the agreement took some time, but will serve the district well.

“This package exemplifies the value placed on our classified staff by the Barrington 220 community, which the board represents,” Battle said. “These individuals play a vital role in supporting our instructional mission and we appreciate their service.”

Meanwhile, the board continues to plan its annual budget of about $130 million for next school year. Board members have been reviewing digital age learning – school technology – and staffing levels.

The board has a complex decision to make for digital age learning – to pause the program and keep up with only the ongoing leases for 600 Macbook Airs at the high school and eliminating laptops at the middle school level; to move forward with “phase two” of the district’s digital age learning by providing Macbook Airs to all high school students and iPads or PCs to all middle school students; Or – have families rent the devices for $70 to $100 per year, doubling the rent fee if the student would like to own the device after their schooling.

Battle said a decision to fully fund digital age learning would not “make or break for the district’s budget,” but parents might be interested in the rent-to-own option.

Board member Sandra Bradford said school fees are high enough and if a second phase of digital age learning is implemented, there should not be a technology rental fee. Bradford said a rent-to-own option may be beneficial to families, but the board should consider lowering the rent-to-own cost in that case.

Battle said since the board is on a purchasing timeline, a decision is set to be made March 18.

Other decision to be made at the next regular board meeting include the non-renewal of teacher contracts and the honorable dismissal of educational support staff, Battle said.
District spokesman Jeff Arnett said staffing decisions are routinely made each year.

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