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School Districts Deal with Budget Uncertainty


School districts in Illinois are finding different ways to deal with the uncertainty over state funding and how it will pay for teachers' pensions in the future.

The Schuyler-Industry district has found one-year labor contracts to be one strategy.

Superintendent Mat Plater says the school board and the teachers union find it to be fair to both sides.

He says, “We didn't want to tie or punish either side by committing to something longer term knowing that the state might make some changes.”

Plater says, in the past, labor contracts have varied between three and five years in length.

Plater also says the two sides will have to negotiate how to pay for pensions, once the state comes up with a plan.

He says, “There's just so much uncertainty right now and so much discussion about pension change and pension reform and having districts or employees possibly pay more.”

Governor Pat Quinn and House Speaker Michael Madigan favor a plan to shift the expense for teachers' pension from the state to local districts.

If both sides ratify the contract, this will be the second straight year for a short-term deal. Plater says teachers will probably vote on the pact the first day of school. He says the board would then vote to ratify the pact.

The tentative agreement calls for a 3.2% average increase in pay for teachers.