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Could City Colleges contract provide framework for a CPS deal?

Updated: October 2, 2012 6:10AM

Chicago City Colleges teachers will get a 10 percent pay raise over five years, phase out step increases for experience and phase in merit pay based on student outcomes, under a new contract announced Saturday that could provide the framework for an agreement with Chicago Public School teachers poised to strike Sept. 10.

City Colleges Chancellor Cheryl Hyman and Perry Buckley, president of Cook County Teachers Union Local 1600, announced Saturday that the two sides had reached the agreement 10 months early. The pact still must be voted on by City Colleges trustees on Sept. 13.

Although the current contract has nearly a year to run, Hyman had pushed for an early agreement that could have the dual benefit of boosting student outcomes at City Colleges and strengthening Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s hand in difficult negotiations with Chicago teachers.

Under the agreement, the 600 faculty members will accept a pay freeze during the first year of the five-year agreement and get 2.5 percent increases for each of the four years after that. The first year of the agreement will be the final year for step increases, which amount to anywhere from $3,000 to $6,000 per employee, depending on seniority.

Roughly 900 non-faculty employees will also get a 2.5 percent increase during the first year and a total five-year pay raise of 12.5 percent. Those employees, who range from graphic designers to student advisers and librarians, are not eligible for step increases.

Lane increases, which reward City Colleges teachers for furthering their education, will be reduced from four to three for newly-hired teachers.

Merit pay will begin in 2014, year two of the contract. It will be based on eight measurements recommended by the Illinois Board of Higher Education. They include student graduation and certification rates, the number of students who transfer to four-year universities and the number of students who land jobs in their field of study.

All 600 faculty members will be judged as a group based on those criteria. If they make progress in those key areas and achieve the maximum performance, they will share an additional $500,000 or roughly $883-per-person.

A committee comprised of City Colleges administrators and faculty members will monitor performance pay to make certain that the pay pool is being dispersed effectively and there are no “perverse incentives,” said a source familiar with the agreement. They will also examine new ways to reward merit pay to individuals or smaller sub-sets of teachers within a department.

“One thing that will not be used to determine merit pay is grades. We don’t want to create the risk for grade inflation. We don’t want teachers to give people high grades so they can get a pay raise,” said a source familiar with the agreement.

The contract also calls for an end to the longstanding policy of allowing teachers to bank unused sick days and cash them out upon retirement. That practice will end in July 2014.

“We’ve had people retire with the equivalent of a full year’s salary. Those benefits are not sustainable,” the source said.

Emanuel released a statement through a spokesperson Saturday commending both sides for “this progressive agreement that is fair for our teachers and ensures that our resources are supporting our students.”

Employee contributions to the skyrocketing cost of health care will rise from 13 percent of salaries currently to 16 percent over the last four years of the agreement. City Colleges employees will also join Emanuel’s wellness plan, which calls for employees to pay $50 more a month unless they agree to participate in a plan aimed at combating chronic diseases.

And instead of allowing retired employees to remain on the City Colleges health care plan, those retirees will join Medicare at age 65.

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