The Shelbyville Community Unit School District No. 4 school board has approved an agreement with the Shelbyville Education Association.

While other school districts around the nation are suffering through contract disputes with teachers, the Shelbyville School Board approved a 3-year teacher contract at its meeting Thursday. Superintendent Denise Bence discussed some of the details of the agreement, including a salary increase.

"The contract includes a salary increase of 2.5 percent in the first year, a 2 percent increase in the second year and a 2 percent increase in the third year," Bence said. "There has been a huge teacher shortage. I'm sure you've heard that enrollments at Eastern Illinois University were down.

"They are gradually going up, but it's tough right now. We have offered positions and had just one or two applicants. Last year, we had a high school career tech educator position and no one applied. It is especially tough for specialty courses. We were able to get a Lake Land teacher to fill-in."

The starting salary for a teacher with a bachelor's degree will be $36,330 and with a master's degree it will be $38,475.

"We have to be competitive," Bence said. "This 2.5 percent increase makes us competitive with area schools."

In addition to the new agreement, the school board approved seniority lists for the certified and support staff. They also had a first reading of school board policy updates.

One of the additions is the flexibility of hiring substitute teachers.

"Someone with a bachelor's degree could already be a substitute teacher," Bence said. "Now someone with just an associate's degree can get a short-term sub license from the Regional Office. If someone takes their transcripts to the Regional Office, passes the background check and gets their sub license. We would probably have work for them that week."

The board also recognized a policy that allows teachers who have retired (TRS annuitants) to teach up to 120 days/600 hours, which is an increase. They also can teach in shortage areas.

The board approved new courses. The approved a course in College Algebra, one in Computer Operations & Programming, a course for Introduction to Graphic Design, a more advanced design course in Digital Graphics, and a course for Introduction to Family and Consumer Sciences.

The board also recommended to hire Nicholas Caldwell to be the High School Guidance Counselor. The current counselor, Wendy Griesemer, is retiring. Courtney West is currently a part-time teacher in Family Consumer Science and is recommended to be hired full-time. Marilyn Biehler is retiring from that position.

The board accepted the resignation of Stephanie White, a high school English teacher, and will be looking to replace her. Kevin Kramer is also retiring and the board will be looking to hire a P.E. teacher. A cross country coach for next season may be hired in the April meeting. The board also approved several volunteer assistant coaches.

With High School Principal Shane Schuricht being hired as Superintendent, as of July 1, the board is looking at applicants for his position at the high school.

"We have one applicant from in house and 15 from outside the district," Bence said. "They will be narrowed down and interviews will be made. Hopefully, they will be done and available for the March meeting."

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