30 days of paid parental leave 'huge win' for District 128 teachers, union says

  • The Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 board this week approved a three-year contract with teachers, including 30 days of paid parental leave. The district office is on Lakeview Parkway in Vernon Hills.

      The Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 board this week approved a three-year contract with teachers, including 30 days of paid parental leave. The district office is on Lakeview Parkway in Vernon Hills. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 8/11/2022 5:53 PM

Teachers in Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 started the school year with a fresh contract that includes 30 days of paid parental leave and "competitive salary benefits."

As students returned to Libertyville and Vernon Hills high schools Thursday, teachers were settling in with a new three-year pact that followed several months of negotiation.

 

The last three-year contract expired June 30. The 290-member teachers union ratified a new pact July 28, and the school board unanimously approved it Monday.

The agreement runs through June 30, 2025. Highlights also include setting class size for Advanced Placement, honors and college prep classes at 25, according to the district.

Overall, the base salary increases 6.57% the first year. However, district officials said, the net increase is 3.79% because some retirement and other bonuses and benefits that had been paid by the district were rolled into base salaries. Those costs will not be paid by the district in the second and third years of the contract.

Teachers also will get a 2% one-time cost-of-living payment -- not a salary increase -- for the 2022-23 school year.

The estimate on the "all-in" base salary increases for the second year is 4.37%. Increases the third year will range from 1.3% to 3%, depending on the Consumer Price Index, plus a 2% step increase as teachers reach certain experience levels.

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Changes at the state level allowed the district to shorten the declaration period for teacher retirement from seven to five years. Retiring teachers will get a 5% increase each of the last four years of service, district officials said.

School board President Lisa Hessel said the district and union worked "diligently and collaboratively" to reach a contract that recognizes the important contribution of teachers balanced with the needs of students and role of the board as "responsible stewards" of taxpayer resources.

Dennis Duffy, council president for the union, said that compromise was part of the negotiation but that one of the biggest disappointments was with class size. Students are best served with smaller classes, he added, noting the union will continue to advocate to the board and administration on the issue.

Duffy said the union stayed firm on the parental leave policy, which was a "huge win" for members.

"Six weeks of paid leave is, unfortunately, not as common as it should be," he said. "We are extremely proud of securing this benefit for our members and consider it a model for other unions seeking similar benefits."

Superintendent Denise Herrmann said the measure is an investment in staff members and their families.

"While common in the private sector, ensuring parents have 30 days of paid time to bond with their child is new for school districts in the region," she said.

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