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Legal issue arises in Galesburg-Augusta Schools teacher contract negotiation

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Legal issue arises in Galesburg-Augusta Schools teacher contract negotiation.{ } (WWMT/File)

Teachers in the Galesburg-Augusta school district are currently working without a contract, which expired June 30.

Representatives from the Galesburg-Augusta Board of Education and the Galesburg-Augusta Education Association met several times to replace the contract and say they are close to an agreement, but union leaders say one line in the contract is holding everything up.

The Galesburg-Augusta Board of Education is proposing pay increases tied to performances. Recently, the school board and teacher's union agreed to a 5 percent salary increase for teachers on steps 1 through 5 and a 4 percent increase for teachers on step 6 through 20.

The Board has proposed that a teacher will advance based on any of the following:

  1. A highly effective overall rating, or
  2. An effective overall rating, or
  3. An effective rating on the 60 percent teacher performance portion and minimally effective on the student growth/performance (40 percent) on the teacher’s most recent annual performance evaluation.

Galesburg-Augusta Education Association Vice President Kim Jankowski said the school district is violating a provision in the state's Public Employment Relations Act that prohibits decisions about how an employee performance evaluation is used to determine performance-based compensation.

"One area they are required to negotiate on is salaries and steps, and they are trying to combine the two, which is a violation of the law," said Jankowski.

According to the school system, all district teachers were rated effective or highly effective on their last performance evaluation.

"There are other districts who have it in our contract and our attorney has assured us there is nothing illegal about the language that we are asking to put into the contract" said Galesburg-Augusta Community Schools Superintendent Wendy Somers.

Both sides have taken a break from the negotiation table this week, but are hopeful an agreement will be reached soon.

"We have the kids best interest is always in our hearts and that will continue. Whether we have a contract on the first day of school or not," said Jankowski.

Both sides have scheduled two bargaining sessions next week.

"The Board will continue to bargain in good faith and I am very confident that very soon we will achieve a fair and competitive contract that hires and retains quality teachers," said Somers.