New pact for Vandalia teachers OK’d

The Vandalia Board of Education on Tuesday ratified a three-year contract with the Vandalia Unit Teachers’ Association that gives teachers an annual pay increase of 3 percent.

The agreement comes after a salary freeze last year and a 1.5-percent increase the previous year. It brings the base salary to $34,722, including the teacher retirement allocation (or $31,458 without teacher retirement).

“It was a real good process,” Superintendent Rich Well said of the negotiations with the six-member VUTA team. “Both sides were prepared with good information, and both sides understood the numbers.”

The final contract, Well said, “is fair for the district and fair for the teachers. It’s something they can live with and we can live with.”

Todd Ehlers, VUTA president, said that the teachers and district officials had three negotiating sessions of about three to four hours each.

“We talked about what we needed, but we kept the district’s financial situation in mind,” Ehlers said. “We found a happy medium, and we agreed. I’m happy with the way things turned out.

“The goal is to have good quality teachers in the district,” Ehlers said. “We want to be able to recruit them and retain them.”

In other action at Tuesday’s monthly meeting, the school board:

• Set budget hearings for the district and the Okaw Area Vocational Center for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 30. The September school board meeting will be moved to that date as well.

• Heard a report from Well that Health Life Safety projects are continuing. The high school parking lot paving project is complete, and work is being wrapped up on improvements to doors, locks and security cameras in all district buildings.

• Heard a report from Well that several textbooks either have been or will be replaced. “We’ve really made a commitment to getting our books updated,” Well said. He praised the work of the Curriculum Advisory Committee in that effort.

• Heard a report from Well that improving student attendance will be a priority for the district. “It’s a win-win thing for the students and the district,” he said. “It helps with state aid (which is based on average daily attendance) and it also helps with the educational process. We’ll be offering attendance incentives at each school.”

After a two-hour closed session, the board approved the following:

• The employment of Kevin Helm as Vandalia Community High School volleyball volunteer assistant coach.

• The employment of Charlie Lett as Vandalia Junior High School custodian.

• The employment of Mike Butler as VCHS athletic director.

• The employment of Whitney Smith as a clerk at Jefferson Primary School.

• The employment of Tara Tarter as VJHS teacher’s aide.

• The planned retirement of VCHS teacher Amy Vieregge at the end of the 2011/2012 school year.

• The renewal of the district’s property, casualty and worker’s compensation insurance package. Well noted that the premiums will be about $4,000 less than last year.

• The planned eight-week maternity leave of Misty Philpot, starting about Nov. 11.

• The destruction of executive session audio recordings older than 18 months. (Those tapes are required by state law to be kept for at least 18 months.)

• The second reading of ISBE policy updates.

• The employment of James Moore as VCHS physical education instructor.

• The adoption of a performance plan for non-certified employees.

• The adoption of job descriptions for the positions of registrar (a new position), bookkeeper and business manager.

• The adoption of a collecting bargaining agreement between the district and the Vandalia Unit Teachers’ Association.

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