The District 64 Board of Education and the Park Ridge Teacher Assistants Association (PRTAA), the professional organization that represents the District’s teaching assistants, have reached agreement on a new, four-year contract, 2016-17 through 2019-20. This is the second consecutive four-year agreement between the PRTAA and the Board of Education.
The PRTAA membership voted to ratify the contract on January 11 and 13, 2017; the Board of Education officially approved the agreement at the January 23, 2017 meeting.
The agreement will add approximately $300,000 to the District’s expenditures over the four-year life of the contract.
Similar to the new contract for teachers settled earlier in the fall, the base increase for each year is now tied to CPI-U, which is the same percentage used in the District’s annual Tax Levy, with a floor of 1.7% and a ceiling of 3.25%. The total compensation also includes an annual step increase in the amount of 1% over the previous year's hourly rate.
Altogether, the new contract represents an average percentage increase of 2.61% to the District’s expenditures for teacher assistant salaries.
According to Board President Tony Borrelli: “The new contract honors our taxpayers by helping to control the rate of escalation of expenses. By lowering the rate of increase through utilization of the CPI, the District will maintain capital reserves and extend any referendum timeline that would be necessary in a financial shortfall. This form of contract is a new paradigm for District financial sustainability for the future.”
PRTAA President Russ Haak noted that: “PRTAA is pleased to have ratified a new contract that addresses the needs of our entire District 64 community. We are thankful for the collaborative spirit demonstrated by both sides throughout the negotiations process,” he added.
Superintendent Laurie Heinz stated that as with the PREA agreement with teachers, "We believe this contract balances valuing the services our teacher assistants provide to staff and students, while keeping our goal of decreasing the overall impact to the budget in line with Board goals. Our teachers would be unable to meet the needs of all of our students without the support of our assistants.”
Negotiations were initiated on April 4, 2016, with a total of 8 sessions held in all. Two Board of Education members served on the negotiations team and provide frequent updates and input from the Board on a regular basis.
Additionally, the contract itself was streamlined to incorporate a past “side letter” of understanding, jettison confusing language, and reflect all current practices. Stipends and class coverage responsibilities were restructured, work hours were standardized, and a voluntary early retirement plan was added.
District 64 employs about 115 teaching assistants. Teaching assistants take on a variety of assignments in the District supporting both staff and students in all subjects and at all grade levels.
District 64 serves about 4,500 students in grades K-8 at five elementary schools, two middle schools, and an early childhood center.