The Racine Unified School District and the Racine Education Association announced today that they have reached a tentative contract agreement. What that means is that the membership of the REA voted in favor of the proposed contract on Thursday: actually, 97% of the teachers present voted for the agreement. The Board of Education will consider ratification on Monday, Jan. 25, during its regularly scheduled meeting.
Tentative Agreement is a Significant Achievement
The recently negotiated tentative agreement between the Racine Unified School District and the Racine Education Association is the culmination of more than 11 months of work. This work entailed approximately 300 hours of intensive, straightforward discussions involving 20 educational professionals. These discussions focused on issues of school reform, improvement of student learning and the refinement of instructional practices in Racine. The labor agreement reflects the connection between student learning, teachers’ working conditions, compensation and effectiveness.
The tentative agreement includes new language that supports teachers in their role as professionals dedicated to improving learning for all students. A mastery system, based on data, will be created to improve teaching and learning as well as encourage teacher leadership in collaborative school improvement efforts. The new agreement provides for uniform elementary teacher preparation time that can be used for teacher use of data and collaboration in improvement of teaching and learning. Collaborative team teaching and inclusive practices for all students are strongly supported in the new agreement. Refinements have been made to the evaluation process in support of advancing teaching skills.
Teaching and Learning
The 2009-2010 and the 2010-2011 calendars were designed to use instructional time more effectively, recognize the importance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as an educational role model, incorporate two snow days within the calendar and provide time for parent teacher conferences in the spring. The parties provided additional support for students with disabilities by addressing issues such as the structure of class enrollments and team teaching arrangements. Improvements have been made to the labor agreement to better address specific student learning and behavior needs.
The agreement provides increased compensation of 1.4% and 1.5% for the 2009-2010 and 2010-11 school years, respectively. The increase in compensation is within the 2009-10 budget approved by the School Board in July. The change in compensation is comparable and competitive with the Kenosha Unified School District, the Madison Metropolitan School District, and other nearby districts. Overall, Racine’s teacher salaries remain slightly below comparable school districts, but beginning salaries are competitive to attract highly qualified teacher candidates.
Health Insurance Adjustments
The new agreement addresses the rapidly increasing costs of health insurance and other benefits. A Benefit Study Committee has been established to analyze proposed cost saving measures and consider alternative benefits. A District medical clinic will be established for employees and their families to seek medical care as well as information on wellness programs. Co-payments will be increased for doctor office visits, however, the co-payments will be waived for services received at the District clinic.
This labor agreement could not have been achieved without cooperation from many professionals committed to improving the education of all children in Racine. As the professionals who negotiated this labor agreement, we are proud to be part of the Racine Unified School District and believe this agreement will improve learning for our children.