MATTOON -- A three-year collective bargaining agreement between the Mattoon school district and the Mattoon Education Association, the local teachers union, has been settled on and approved by both parties.
Both the Mattoon district administration and the union OK'd the agreement Tuesday.
This agreement includes a 1.88 percent salary increase annually over three years for the total package. The package details salary, retirement, insurance, overloads and extra duties.
The agreement with the teachers union sets the base pay for incoming teachers at $35,509 in the first year; $36,219 in the second year; and $36,600 in the third year.
Both parties noted that the new form of bargaining they used, interest-based bargaining, was more civil and effective.
Jessica Closson, MEA president, said the new style offers a more open form of communication with a better "problem-solving focus."
"It was the most pleasurable bargaining experience that I have ever had," Mattoon Superintendent Larry Lilly said.
Tuesday, the Mattoon school board also approved new meal prices for the upcoming school year. As previously reported in the JG-TC, the new meal prices are increased by a dime at Mattoon schools. This makes lunch prices at the schools rise to $2.50.
Lilly said the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires school meal prices to be in line with national standards. The last time the district raised meal prices was two years ago.
Excluded from these increases was milk and reduced lunch prices, for which more than half of Mattoon students are eligible. In the Mattoon district, 57.6 percent of the entire student population is eligible for free or reduced lunch. by comparison, for Charleston, that number is at 47.8 percent.
Tom Sherman, Mattoon assistant superintendent of business, has said the percentage went up slightly from last year but has largely sat in the same percentile in past years.
These numbers do not necessarily reflect who takes advantage of the program, and Sherman encourages families to check and see if they are eligible.
Other prices in the district -- including instructional material, sports and driver education fees -- will remain the same after a school board vote.
Also at the meeting, the board OK'd the district's request to solicit bids for a maintenance truck with a toolbox and snow removal equipment.
The old one will be used by those in the building trades course at Mattoon High School. Currently, personal vehicles are used to transport materials to the sites. The new trades house will be at 2013 Evergreen Court.