Special Education Teachers Approve Three-Year Contract

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Byline: Karen Kutz Daily Herald Staff Writer

Special education teachers in DuPage County ratified a three-year contract offer Wednesday, putting to rest threats of a strike.

Union members at an early afternoon meeting debated for nearly two hours before voting 38-11 to accept the contract, said Pam Petri, union president.

"It took a lot of discussion," she said. "There were some who were not happy."

Board members from the School Association for Special Education in DuPage County met with teachers last week in a last-ditch effort with a federal mediator.

After negotiating for nine hours, SASED teachers and board members reached a tentative pact.

Petri said board members at the table agreed to offer salary increases of 3 percent in 1999-2000, 4 percent the second year and 4.5 percent the final year.

Under the new contract, base pay for a starting teacher is $29,046 the first year, $30,208 the next year and $31,576 in the third year, she said.

The teachers had asked for 6 percent raises each year. SASED officials' most recent offer was 1.7 percent the first year, 1.9 percent the second and 2 percent in the final year.

"They did come a ways - I mean, quite a bit," said Petri, a special education teacher at Westmont Junior High School.

SASED negotiators also agreed to guarantee 225 minutes of paid planning periods during the school day every two weeks in the first year of the pact, and 150 minutes per week in the final two years. …