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Board mulls lowering pay for driver ed

Current rate mirrors summer school pay, 50 percent higher than top rate at other schools

At the request of the Morris High School board, Superintendent Dr. Pat Halloran brought a proposal to the board to reduce the pay for non-contractual behind-the-wheel driver education instructors, but the board tabled the vote.

"I would like to have more discussion," said board member Karen Meucci at Monday's meeting of the Morris Community High School District 101 Board of Education.

At last month's board meeting, and at the last finance committee meeting, the rate of pay for non-contractual employees teaching behind-the-wheel driving was discussed. They currently make $45 a hour, which is the same as the union staff summer school pay. Union staff also make $45 an hour when they are teaching behind-the-wheel outside of their regular work day.

Prior to 2011, the non-contractual instructors made $35. When the teacher's contract went up to $45 for their summer school hours, so did the non-contractual pay for behind-the-wheel instruction. 

Halloran said at last month's meeting that, although it has been past practice for the district to pay the non-contractual instructors the same as the summer school teacher pay, it does not have to be done that way.

The district has been paying it this way since 1987, Halloran said.

Monday he brought the board numbers from surrounding school districts on what they pay for comparison.

In Coal City, Braidwood and Plainfield school districts, they also use both contractual and non-contractual employees. In Coal City, they both make $30 per hour; Braidwood, $25; and in Plainfield, $30.

Halloran said Monday he recommends the board approve changing the rate for non-contractual employees to $30, which would start with this summer's driver's education program.

The $45 an hour for contractual teachers giving driving instruction would continue until the end of their current contract, which has one more year. Halloran said they could revisit this in negotiations for the next contract.

Board member John Maddox asked Halloran why, when the board voted on the current contract, the raise from $35 to $45 was not pointed out as a percentage raise. He said it was basically a 30 percent raise the teacher's received.

Halloran said the rate of pay of $45 was in the contract the board approved. Maddox voted against that contract.

Board member Jim Paulson pointed out it wasn't a percentage raise given, but a rate increase for summer school hours that was part of the bargaining agreement.

Meucci said at the finance committee meeting last week that she did feel $45 was too high, but that she was more concerned with the process by which the rate was determined. Meucci was not on the board when the current contract was approved.

"I understand this is what you did in the past, but the board is supposed to pass non-contractual salaries yearly," she said then.

Meucci said some of the new board members were unaware this was in the contract, and that non-contractual pay needs to be voted on annually so the taxpayers know how their money is being spent.

She asked Monday if the vote on the $30 recommendation could wait until after executive session. Halloran said yes, or it could be tabled until next month. The board voted to table it.

The use of non-contractual teachers for some behind-the-wheel instruction began in the early 2000s, under Superintendent Steve Fannin, said Halloran. In the mid-2000s, the district had a couple of teachers who did driver's education retire, as well as a couple leave the district. In addition, the driving permit laws changed requiring students to have their permits longer, so more summertime instruction was needed.

At that time, they used more non-contractual instructors to avoid hiring two full-time teachers, which saved the district about $100,000, Halloran said.

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