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Peoria teachers will see sizable compensation increases in new contract

The Peoria Public Schools Board of Education voted unanimously to approve a new three-year contract with the Peoria Federation of Teachers on Monday, Sept. 26, 2022.
Tim Shelley
The Peoria Public Schools Board of Education voted unanimously to approve a new three-year contract with the Peoria Federation of Teachers on Monday, Sept. 26, 2022.

Peoria Public Schools teachers are up for big compensation increases over the next three years in their new contract.

With no discussion, the Peoria Public Schools Board of Education approved a new contract with the Peoria Federation of Teachers Local 780 at its regular board meeting on Monday.

Salaries were increased by a cumulative 6.5% in the 2022-23 school year, and 5.5% increases for the following two years.

Teachers also will receive a $2,000 retention bonus at the end of each school year for the duration of the contract, with the possibility for an additional $2,000 bonus this year if the district brings in $52 million or more in corporate personal property replacement tax revenue.

Teachers also will earn increased pay for "doubling up," or using their prep period to teach a class, and the district will offer perfect attendance bonuses for employees who use two or fewer sick days per semester.

Contract negotiations began back in March. The union requested a federal mediator after 19 failed rounds of bargaining. The third mediated talk ultimately produced an agreement on Sept. 15.

Peoria Federation of Teachers President Jeff Adkins-Dutro said the union is pleased.

"I will say that the contract did pass with a 99% vote. So, our members are very happy with it. And it's one of the best contracts that we ever had. So we're proud of it," he said.

Per a district memo, the contract also calls on focusing the work of the Strategic Communications Committee on improving student academics, student disciplinary practices, student attendance, and professional development opportunities.

The union and district will hire a third-party vendor to examine working conditions in the 2023-24 school year. The union says that includes finding ways to lower teacher stress and heighten morale. The two parties will split the costs of the vendor equally.

"You have to acknowledge that we've got problems before you can really take a step towards finding solutions for that problem," said Matt McCaw, the union's bargaining chair. "So, we're hopeful that now they contractually have to work with us. And I don't know if it's gonna be a magic pill that suddenly solves all these issues, but it's a giant step in the right direction."

Items on lowering class sizes and adding certified counselors to every school didn't make it into the final contract.

The contract also removes athletic directors from the bargaining unit, but allows the current ADs at Richwoods and Peoria High to remain in the union until the end of June 2025.

The new contract also eliminates the practice of "free release" that allows a bargaining unit member to miss up to one hour or period without using sick leave, per a district memo.

Final language items in the contract remain subject to review by both the union and the district.

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Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.