MENDOTA – The Mendota Elementary CCSD 289 Board of Education voted 6-0-1, solidifying a five-year contract with the Mendota Education Association (MEA) on Thursday, July 21. All board members who were on the board throughout the negotiation process voted to ratify the new contract. The Association membership voted entirely in favor of ratifying the contract the day prior. The agreement was reached after several months of negotiation sessions including members of the MEA, the Board of Education, the district Superintendent, and advisors.
“This period of negotiations between the MEA and Board was both positive and efficient. It was important to the Board that past experiences not shadow this process, and that both sides were building on a foundation of transparency and trust,” said Board President Theresa Komitas.
The agreement represents both parties’ commitment to attracting and retaining great educators, and brings the district in-line with area schools in terms of competitive pay and benefits. “We are extremely happy with our new contract and feel Mendota Elementary Schools are finally in a place where we can compete within our area to recruit and retain quality educators,” said Association Co-Vice-President Brandon Scheppers.
The agreement now includes bereavement and personal days for members, the option to participate in vision insurance, an increase in the Board contribution to the retirement fund contribution, and several language changes to simplify and modernize terminology and practice.
It was shared during negotiations how important it was to the Association that staff members who reside outside district residential boundaries have the option to enroll their children in the district’s schools. The Board completed the first of several steps in the process of applying for the waiver with the state to allow for this benefit for all staff members.
“We entered this negotiation process with some alternative ideas to curb the loss of quality staff, and we appreciate the board’s vision in embracing this as a solution. Our educators take great pride in the high standards and rigor of District 289 and are grateful that all of our children may share in that experience,” said Association Co-Vice-President Rachel Sabin.
“The coordination, honest, and open communication between the Association and Board allowed for the teams to work together on things important to each side, and to find a place of common ground,” said President Komitas. “This was a time of change, with the majority of the Board members seated after the last contract, new Board leadership, a new Superintendent, and new legal team; it was an opportunity to approach negotiations differently and it resulted in a very positive outcome for all involved.”
Sabin added, “The Mendota Elementary Education Association would like to thank the current Board of Education and Superintendent Cox for the time, commitment, and respect demonstrated throughout these negotiations. Historically, it’s been rare for Mendota elementary teachers to begin a school year under a new contract, and we greatly appreciate the Board for listening to and addressing teacher concerns that have been brought up for a number of years. It is because of these efforts that we were able to settle this contract before school starts and with so much success.”