Teachers ‘felt valued,’ agree to three percent raise in one-year contract

Quincy School Board members Rachael Petty, left, and Sayeed Ali talk during Wednesday's meeting at the Quincy School District office at 1416 Maine.

Quincy School Board members Rachael Petty, left, and Sayeed Ali talk during Wednesday's meeting at the Quincy School District office at 1416 Maine.

QUINCY — The Quincy School Board’s unanimous vote to approve a one-year contract with the Quincy Federation of Teachers and Educational Support Personnel for the 2021-22 school year came at about 6:40 p.m.

The teachers’ union followed with its own approval less than an hour later. 

Seventy percent of the union’s 652 members turned out to vote, and 93.4 percent of the votes were in favor. The deal calls for a three percent increase for all union employees. The School Board also will pick up one percent of the employee share going into the Teacher Retirement System, as well as a half-percent of the employee share of the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.

Employees will pick up slightly more of the cost of insurance on any plan including spouses, children or families.

“Most people were very receptive,” said Many, the teacher subgroup president for the teachers union. “They were excited about the increase in pay. They were excited about the addition to the retirement. Most important, they felt valued. The Board definitely showed that.”

School Board President Sayeed Ali told Board members on Wednesday that the rapport with the teachers’ union has improved from when he joined the negotiating team.

“The first time we had a negotiation, it was not like this. It was nine months long,” he said. “What’s changed over the years? I would say our working relationship and our transparency in general. … For years, we have just viewed each other as one team moving forward.”

Ryan Whicker, chief of business operations, said increases in salary and benefits, along with the change in insurance, create an additional net cost of $1.12 million to the school district.

“We always want to pay more than what we’re actually able to offer,” Ali said after the meeting. “That’s kind of always been the dilemma that we’re in. So this year, it just worked out. … The ability to be just a little bit more competitive, even if it is a very short term, helps us as a district. It’s good for the community.

“If there’s any group that has earned some appreciations, some gratitude and potential compensation if it’s available, I would say it’s the team at QPS this year. I think it would have been extremely easy, if we didn’t have the type of people we do on our team, to just fold. We wouldn’t have had school this year.”

Many said negotiations on the next contract may start this summer. She said she’s anticipating doing a two- or three-year contract.

The Board also voted to give the same three percent salary raise and contribute one percent of the employee share going into the Teacher Retirement System for all administrative and non-union employees.

Wednesday’s meeting started with a woman, who did not identify herself, asking the Board what the upcoming school year will look like. She is considering switching her child from a parochial school to Quincy Junior High School.

Superintendent Roy Webb answered with the caveat that “things can change, so we’re not locking everything in right now.”

Webb then said he believes more of a “traditional learning environment” will be in place at QJHS.

“I can’t answer questions on masks right now,” he said. “The governor (J.B. Pritzker) has loosened restrictions for most of the state, but he kept the restrictions for public schools, mass transit and things like that. I expect some more loosening during the summer, especially if things continue to get better and more vaccines are distributed.”

The Board approved spending $699,650 for an asphalt parking lot with 138 stalls at the Quincy Public Schools building at 1416 Maine. Board member Richard McNay, a member of the finance committee, noted the price came in higher than expected. Curt Wavering, a chief engineer at Klingner & Associates, said there are no guarantees that the bids would come in less if the Board voted to postpone the project.

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