By CRYSTAL LIGON
Mahomet Citizen Editor
MAHOMET — The Mahomet-Seymour school district and its teachers’ union have reached a tentative agreement, according to the union.
“We are so happy,” Mahomet-Seymour Education Association Co-President Joan Jordan said, with tears in her eyes. “We’re going to get to go back to school on Monday.”
Linda Meachum, chief negotiator, who was standing next to Jordan, also had tears in her eyes.
“This has been the most contentious thing I think I’ve ever been in in my life,” Jordan said.
According to Jordan, the tentative one-year agreement involves a step pay increase plus a half percent, which means a 2.6 percent average increase in the teacher salary schedule; teacher aides would get step plus 1 percent, which would be about 3.5 percent; and support staff would get 3.5 percent.
“We got three extra sick days,” Jordan added.
Insurance increased by $25, from $545 to $570, according to Meachum.
Jordan said she expects the union membership to vote on the tentative agreement Monday afternoon.
The special meeting is still on for 4 p.m. to determine if interscholastic sports and activities will continue since it is only a tentative agreement.
When asked to confirm the tentative agreement, Mahomet-Seymour school board President Terry Greene said there would be no comment until after the 4 p.m. meeting.
According to the recently expired contract, Mahomet-Seymour teachers who have a bachelor’s degree made a minimum of $33,055 annually and a maximum of $53,434. The highest paid teachers, which includes teachers who have a master’s degree plus 90 additional hours of continuing education and 30 plus years of experience, made as much as $76,040.
The Mahomet-Seymour school district has about 26 teachers who qualify for retirement receiving 6 percent increases in salary each year over their last four years of service. It is expected that there will be about seven teachers who retire at the end of this year, including Joan Jordan, co-president of the MSEA, and Linda Meachum, chief negotiator of the union. Both are fifth-grade teachers at Lincoln Trail Elementary School.
In total there are about 195 teachers and 55 teachers’ aides, and about 80 other staffers such as secretaries, custodians and bus drivers in the district. Most of the teachers and aides are in the union. About half of the support staff are in the union, according to MSEA spokesman Eric Potter.
According to the district, MSEA teachers have averaged 6 percent increases per year for the last nine years.
In comparison to surrounding school districts, according to the 2009 Illinois State Report Card, Mahomet makes an average of $54,151; Urbana, $54,058; Danville, $61,344; Champaign, $52,410; Rantoul, $45,406; Monticello, $48,417; and Unity, $41,212.
The public can find the expired 2007-10 contract at http://www.ms.k12.il.us/district/district-employment-agreements/index.htm. The latest teacher salary schedule can be found on page 53 in Appendix A, www.ms.k12.il.us/files/mseacontract06.pdf.