A joint message between the DGEEA and District 58

A joint message between the DGEEA and District 58

The Downers Grove Grade School District 58 Board of Education approved a new three-year collective bargaining agreement with the Downers Grove Elementary Education Association (DGEEA) at its regular meeting on Monday, June 10 following several months of negotiation sessions. The current collective bargaining agreement expires on August 19, 2024. 

The Board of Education approved the contract in a unanimous vote. On June 4, the teachers’ union ratified the contract, with a large majority of members voting in favor of it.  The new contract increases the base salary for teachers by an average of 2.85% over three years, with additional raises realized by some teachers based upon their advancement on the salary schedule (commonly called “step” increases), which will average 4.5% in the first year. 

“I’m very proud of the contract we’ve negotiated and believe it is both a fair and generous offer for our teachers and also protects our taxpayers,” said Board President Darren Hughes. “It also meets the parameters of the five-year financial plan and positions the District to continue to add to its fund balances,” he said.

The two teams established a new process for negotiations called interest-based bargaining, which allowed the teams to address mutual interests and find solutions that benefit both groups.

“At the core, discussions centered on what was best for students and also demonstrated the value we place on our staff, developing positive relationships and recruiting excellent employees,” said Superintendent Dr. Kevin Russell. 

The contract length of three years allows the District to be more comfortable in forecasting the consumer price index (CPI) and anticipating growth in revenue. In 2018, the Board adopted a four-year contract and a two-year addendum in 2022.

Key topics and resolutions from the negotiations include:

  • Retirement: Increased retirement incentive to 4.5% raises for the last years from 3% percent but below the 6% state cap.
  • Salary: Ensured salary increases align with the Consumer Price Index and projected revenue growth, with a 2.15% increase in year one, 3.15% in year two, and 3.25% in year three. When factoring in the step increases in the teachers’ salary schedule, the average raise in year one is 4.40%, 5.40 % in year two and 5.50% in year three.
  • After-School Meeting Time/Professional Working Hours: Discussed the desire to find more after-school time to schedule meetings. Teachers can leave the school/building if there are no planned meetings outside student attendance hours.
  • Teacher Plan Time: Updated language to protect teacher plan time and provide compensation or replacement time if missed due to a crisis, reflecting current practices.
  • Recruitment and Graduate Credit Hours: The District will develop a list of "hard-to-fill" positions and honor up to nine years of public education service, placing an individual on Step 10 of the salary schedule. Additionally, a master's degree would be defined as 36 graduate credit hours for salary schedule placement.
  • Support for Behavioral Needs: Updated language to reflect current practices in crisis support, planning and training for behavioral intervention.
  • Salary Schedule Advancement: Agreed to prior notification for starting degree programs and agreed to form a committee to develop criteria for ascertaining master’s program quality. The team agreed to limit any salary lane changes to one per year.
  • Parental Leave: Flexibility for unpaid leave between 4 weeks and one year, with insurance costs incurred by employees after 12 weeks.
  • Stipend Structure: Created a new structure for paying stipends, which will be tied to a percentage of the starting teacher’s salary. This provision will be reviewed within the year in light of the middle schools’ new athletic conference.
  • Insurance: Removed the sliding scale for family insurance for those with the HSA plan, as the 80% employee cost had affected teacher recruitment, and restricted new employees to the HSA plan.

“We appreciate the collaborative spirit of these negotiations and believe this agreement will positively impact our teachers and the district,” said Craig Young, Negotiations Chair for the DGEEA.

Assistant Superintendent for Personnel and Staff Development Justin Sisul, Dr. Russell and Mr. Hughes also extended gratitude to Assistant Superintendents Todd Drafall and James Eichmiller, and Board Vice-President Greg Harris for their dedication and hard work throughout the negotiation process. Negotiations culminated with a seven-hour evening session last week and concluded with a 7:30 a.m. tentative agreement the next morning. 

The contract between District 58 and the DGEEA includes more than 559 certified staff members, including teachers and other educational specialists such as Speech Pathologists and Reading Specialists.