Danville teachers' contract approved despite opposition

DANVILLE — Two Danville school board members were not happy Wednesday night with the tentative agreement between the school district and the teachers and staff, calling the three-year contract fiscally irresponsible.

Board Members Frank Young and Steve Bragorgos asked that the vote on the contract, which was ratified by the Danville Education Association last week, be delayed, allowing the board more time to go over the details before a vote. Bragorgos is out of the country, and has been for several months, but attended the meeting by phone, He said the board hasn't discussed some of the details in the agreement yet. Young agreed.

"I don't think it's a very good contract for the community," he said.

Young and Bragorgos did not agree with the salary increases included in the contract or with other aspects, including health insurance and a retirement incentive that grants 6 percent salary increases up to three years prior to retirement.

Young and Bragorgos made a motion to delay the vote on the contract, but other board members said they disagreed with a delay and that there was plenty of time to absorb details in the 14-month negotiation process.

"I think it's time we move on, so I'm opposed to prolonging this," said board member Randy Ashton.

The motion then failed on a 2-5 vote, with Bragorgos and Young casting the two votes in favor of a delay. The board then debated parts of the contract for about an hour with the discussion getting heated at times, and some board members telling others that they resented their comments. But eventually, the board approved the contract on a 5-2 vote, with Young and Bragorgos voting "no."

The agreement, which took 14 months of negotiations, covers more than 600 teachers, teaching assistants and other district staff represented by the association and grants an average 2.5 percent salary increase over three years. Some employees will get more than a 2.5 percent increase over three years and others will get less.

Board Member Darlene Halloran said she did some research, and the increases are comparable to increases granted to degree-holding employees working at eight private companies in Danville.

But Bragorgos said the increases are more than most workers in Danville receive, and Young said the increases, some of which are more than 4 percent in a single year in some positions, are more than property taxpayers in the city can afford. And, he said, those revenues will not be increasing and state and federal revenues likely won't be increasing either, and the three-year contract will eat away at the district's reserve funds. Young called it a great deal for the union and a bad deal for the community.

But other board members disagreed with Young's financial outlook on the contract and its impact on the school district.

Board President Bill Dobbles said it's a remarkable contract in which neither side got everything it wanted, but both sides compromised. Dobbles said the district will cap its insurance costs in 2015, and it will lengthen the school day, two items it was pushing to get, and the district made some concessions as well on the retirement incentive, for example.

The contract includes an increase of 15 minutes to the work day for all teachers and teaching assistants. Elementary school teachers had asked for more time each day to teach their students, according to Superintendent Mark Denman. Ashton said the district negotiating team had originally wanted an additional hour to each school day but the compromise was 15 minutes. With different start and dismissal times at the elementary and middle schools and high school, the change will affect teachers and students differently across the district. But at the elementary level, it means 25 additional minutes of instruction every day for teachers and their students.

Denman said the district's elementary schools had the shortest student day compared to Danville High School, and the middle schools, which had the longest. He said district officials heard from many elementary teachers that additional instruction time each day would help them get the curriculum covered. Denman said there are so many more requirements now for the teachers to cover in the school day.

"So we think that's very important," Denman said.

Denman said ideally, applying the additional time to the schedules at each school would have been worked out in a staff and community committee, but with final approval of the contract coming so soon before the start of the new school year, there wasn't time for that, especially considering that bus routes times will need to be worked out as well. And the district's balanced-calendar school, Northeast Elementary Magnet School, starts the new year in just three weeks.

So, district officials worked out the scheduling details in the last several days, and Denman said he recommends that the district assess the time changes to see if they need to be tweaked in the future.

Raises in new contract

The more than 600 teachers, teaching assistants and other staff represented by the Danville Education Association's new collective-bargaining contract with the Danville school district will get an average salary increase of 2.5 percent over three years. The following shows how the salary increases break down by year and by position.

YearTeachersTeaching assistantsSecretariesYear 11.03 percent2.31 percent1.69 percentYear 23.47 percent1.46 percent1.09 percentYear 33.18 percent3.88 percent3.59 percentAverage2.56 percent2.55 percent2.12 percent
 

Longer school days for Danville students

The new contract between Danville teachers and the Danville school district lengthens by 15 minutes the work day for teachers and teaching assistants, which means additional classroom time for students at the elementary schools and Danville High School. The two Danville middle schools already had longer student instructional time. The following shows the changes to student attendance times, beginning this school year.

Preschool

Current student hours mornings: 8:45 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.

New student hours mornings: 8:45 a.m. to 11:25 a.m.

Current, afternoons: 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.

New, afternoons: 12:35 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.

Elementary schools

Current: 8 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.

New: 7:50 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Middle schools

Current: 8:40 a.m. to 3:25 p.m.

New: 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.

Danville High School

Current: 8:15 a.m. to 2:40 p.m.

New: 8:20 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Current, 'zero hour' start time: 7:20 a.m.

New: 7:25 a.m.

Kenneth D. Bailey Academy (alternative school)

Current: 8:15 a.m. to 2:40 p.m.

New: 8:25 a.m. to 2:50 p.m.

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