After roughly 15 months, Shorewood school officials and teachers have reached agreement on a new contract.
Under the one-year pact approved Monday by the School Board, teachers will see a 1.63 bump in base wages. An entry-level teacher salary will increase from $37,350 to 37,963 while a teacher at the top of the scale will earn nearly $78,000, compared to $76,546 under the old agreement. The Shorewood Education Association ratified the contract prior to the meeting.
Educators who were eligible for a bump on the salary schedule were moved up one step, officials say.
While the agreement was approved Monday night, it expired June 30. Teachers will receive the increases retroactive to July 2011.
Even though the state law limiting collective bargaining to wages was recently ruled unconstitutional, fringe benefits were not part of negotiations or the new contract.
School officials approved an employee handbook Aug. 28, which now defines work rules on matters that used to be negotiated with the teachers union, such as benefits, hours and more.
Sachin Pandya, teacher’s union chief negotiator, said the SEA voted unanimously to approve the contract.
“As teachers…we just wanted to voice our appreciation for the way the process and negotiations worked,” Pandya said.
“Obviously, over the last year things have been complicated. Even in the course of this negotiation Judge Colas’ decision striking down Act 10, there was a lot of uncertainty,” he said. “But what was really impressive was the way we were able to as an association, with the board, was having the conversation and come to an agreement that we felt worked for both sides.”
School Board member Michael Mishlove said the fact that the district and SEA was able to come to an agreement and develop the working relationship is a reflection of the community support of education.
“It is the fact that we know as a board, that our community supports teachers and education, and the mission of the district the way that it does, has allowed us to come to these mutually acceptable understandings, without a lot of acrimony,” he said.
SEA President Michael Halloran said there’s a consensus to start contract talks sooner rather than later, so the district and teachers aren't negotiating retroactive agreements.