District 16 board OKs 4 percent para contract increase

The Spring Lake Park District 16 School Board has approved a 4.09 percent total package increase in wages and benefits for its paraprofessional employees over the next two years.

The school board voted 6-0 to approve the 2010-2014 contract at its Oct. 9 regular school board meeting.

Boardmember Jim Amundson was not in attendance.

Paras support student monitoring and instruction in such jobs as special education aids and playground or lunch supervisors, to name a few. The district employs about 100 paras.

The contract settlement was reached between the district and the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local No. 12. District paras voted to ratify the contract the end of September.

“I think the employee group understood where we are at financially, knowing there’s not a lot of money out there with everything that’s going on in the economy,” Ryan Stromberg, District 16’s human resources director, said in an interview with the Life.

Stromberg along with LaToya Jefferson, human resources manager, represented the school district at the bargaining table.

Total cost increase to the district for the new contract is $112,000, according to Stromberg.

In a further breakdown of the contract, paras receive a 2.79 percent increase in wages and benefits in the first year and a 1.3 percent increase in the second year.

The contract period began July 1, 2012 and ends June 30, 2014. Employees are paid retroactively.

Tom Lonergan, OPEIU lead negotiator representing the paraprofessionals, and district representatives met in negotiations about six times, starting at the end of May and ending in August, according to Stromberg.

Lonergan did not return calls requesting comments on the contract settlement.

Overall, the contract contains no schedule improvements.

The 2012-2014 contract includes two wage scales. An A-1-3 for full-time workers and an A-1-2 scale for paras working in a supervisory role.

In year one of the contract, first-year employees in the A-1-3 category receive the same hourly wage as last year’s $13.81 per hour. Paras at the top of the scale in year one continue to receive $18.08 and hour.

For A-1-2 category workers, in year one of the contract, first-year employees will receive the same hourly wage as last year at $13.13. Those at the top step of eight and above will receive $16.50 an hour. Top of the scale workers in this category will receive a one-time payment of $300.

In year two of the contract, there will be no step increases, but those at steps eight or higher in both pay-scale categories will receive a 10 cents an hour increase.

Also, in the second year of the contract, employees in both pay-scale categories will receive a $100 stipend. Those at the top of the schedule will receive a $200 stipend.

For health insurance benefits, the district increased its monthly contribution for both single and family coverage from $542 a month under last year’s contract to $557 a month in the first year of the new contract.

In the second year of the contract, that number will increase to $572 a month.

Paraprofessionals’ life insurance coverage remains the same under the new contract.

Those working less than six hours a day will continue to receive $5,000 of term life insurance coverage, with a cost to the district of $6 a year per person.

Paras who work more than six hours a day continue to receive $10,000 of term life insurance coverage at a cost to the district of $12 a year per person.

The paraprofessional contract is paid from Title funds, compensatory, special education and general funds, according to Stromberg.

Elyse Kaner is at elyse.kaner@ecm-inc.com

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