AP NEWS

Byron reaches tentative agreement for teachers’ contracts

April 4, 2018 GMT

BYRON — Teachers and Byron Public Schools officials have reached a tentative contract agreement.

The Byron Education Association and the Byron School Board have negotiated the 2017-19 contract since May 2017. There were several different points that were made during negotiations:

• Teachers had accepted an increase in their health insurance deductibles and premiums to reduce expenditures in the school district’s budget, with an understanding that the savings would allow the district to apply experience increments to the teaching contract.

• An audit was completed in October 2017, which revealed that the Byron Public Schools District’s unassigned fund balance — basically the district’s savings account, — fell below the board’s mandated minimum of 8 percent down to 6.7 percent. This halted teacher negotiations temporarily.

• The BEA and school board met three more times in December, but failed to make progress, and contract talks stalled.

• Byron School Board decided to not honor the experience increments agreed to during health insurance talks. This caused the board and the BEA to go into mediation.

After the BEA and school board met with a state mediator on March 27, a tentative agreement was reached after nine hours of negotiating, according to Superintendent Dr. Joey Page. From contract negotiations, wages for the first year were sacrificed by teachers to help Byron with its financial situation.

If the BEA decides to ratify this settlement, they will receive experience increments in the second year of their contract, but no wage increases.

“Byron Public Schools success depends on teachers who are fully engaged in educating our children and are accountable for that most critical responsibility,” Page said in an email statement. “This tentative agreement with the Byron Education Association affirms our shared commitment to compensating our employees well by offering regionally competitive salaries and benefits. We must recruit and retain the best and brightest so that they can, in turn, inspire our students to be the best that they can be.”

The district’s income is projected to increase because of the Byron School Board’s decision to maximize the tax levy, increasing student enrollment, and an additional 2 percent in state funding.