HOOPESTON — Two Vermilion County school districts — Hoopeston area and Rossville-Alvin — negotiated new contracts earlier this year.
Representatives from each district talk about how they were able to resolve differences between their school boards and teacher unions.
The Hoopeston Education Association and the Hoopeston Area School District agreed on a one-year contract for the 2012-13 school year on Aug. 16, the week before school started.
The new contract, which expires June 30, 2013, adds $450 to the teachers’ base salary, bringing the new base salary to $29,425. The agreement includes $577 per month to offset the cost of health insurance coverage for staff, which is paid to the school district’s health insurance carrier on behalf of staff members.
Also included in the contract are raises in salary at each eight-credit interval above a bachelor’s degree, and a 6 percent salary increase available to teachers in the last three years before retirement, as awarded in previous contracts.
Several language items were modified in the contract, including an item that concerns the new teacher evaluation system that is now required by state law.
Just like other area school districts, Superintendent Hank Hornbeck said Hoopeston Area also is feeling the financial pinch.
“When the recession hit, homes felt the crunch first but now, a couple years later, the school district is starting to feel the crunch,” he said.
According to Hornbeck, the district’s enrollment is down 58 students this year, mostly at the high school.
Hornbeck said the school district looked into what was causing the decline in enrollment and discovered that many local families had to relocate because that’s where they could find a job.
“We lost families when (ConAgra) closed in Rossville and another factory in Rantoul closed,” he said. “When you lose kids, you lose state aid.”
Hornbeck credited “good, open communication between the HEA and the school district” for the amicable negotiations.