District 117 Approves Three-Year Collective Bargaining Agreement

By Jeremy Coumbes on June 22, 2023 at 11:20am

A new amended budget and collective bargaining agreement were both approved by the Jacksonville District 117 Board of Education last night.

The board gave unanimous approval to a new three-year contract with the Jacksonville Education Association during the regular June meeting last night.

Superintendent of Schools Steve Ptacek said following the meeting, that he and the board are excited after both sides came to what he says was a pretty easy agreement that will help attract more teachers to the district.

It’s just so fantastic to work with the JEA, to work with the teachers. We very quickly came to an agreement on a three-year contract, and with both sides the word fair was used we’re very excited about how it’s going to change our starting pay.

Next year our starting pay is going to be at $43,081, and two years from now it will be at $46,285. So we’re highly competitive now at attracting teachers into the district.”

In August of last year, the district approved a new pay scale for teachers after members of the JEA criticized the previous contract structure, saying the starting salary was too low compared to other similar districts.

Ptacek says the new contract that was approved last night builds on that stepped-up pay scale from last year, giving teachers in District 117 a clear picture of their current and future compensation.

We also extended our [pay scale] steps up to the full thirty-five years so people will know exactly what they are going to make for their entire career, and it will allow them to lane change, in other words, if they get a masters degree late in their career. It clears up a lot of the issues we’ve had with our old pay scale.”

Ptacek says the changes give District 117 a 35-year pay scale he says will be very solid going into the future.

The board also gave unanimous approval to an amended budget last night. Ptacek says there were not many changes this year compared to last. “We go through an amended budget process at the end of every fiscal year. Our fiscal year ends June 30th, and it just kind of tidy’s up the budget for what we actually spend. The beginning of the year is an anticipated budget and we ended up better than we had planned.”

Ptacek says the continued practice of budgeting for fewer revenues and more expenditures than expected has continued to work out in the district’s favor at the end of each fiscal year.

The board also gave unanimous approval to a pair of memorandums of understanding with JEA last night. One regarding attendance bonuses for the upcoming school year, and the other regarding hard-to-fill positions, which was approved for all three years of the new contract.