A Chicago suburban community developed a new contract that features collaborative decisionmaking among the district's professional staff and a flexible structure.
Teachers in Wheaton Warrenville District 200 have approved a new contract that its creators believe will become a model for other public school districts because of its focus on collaborative decisionmaking. The contract recognizes the value of collaboration among the district's professional staff and provides a flexible structure within which teachers and administrators can work together in making decisions that affect them and the 13,000 students in the K-12 district.
The new contract emerged through the same type of collaborative discussions that will be used to make future decisions about teaching and learning. Teams of professional association members and administrators met ahead of the scheduled formal negotiation talks to explore the possibility of moving toward a collaborative decisionmaking model.
What resulted is a contract that provides flexibility in using the time available outside of regular classroom instruction for such purposes as training, curriculum development, and planning for building and district initiatives. While the teachers' workweek has increased by five hours under the new contract, the time will not be accessed on a daily basis. Rather, it will be accumulated and used at the discretion of the teacher, the principal, and a building committee in equal proportions. The ultimate goal, however, is to determine the use of all time through collaborative decisions.
The building committee will determine the use of collaborative time at each school, subject to the support of at least 75 percent of the school's staff. A district oversight committee will monitor the use of collaborative time across the district and resolve contract issues that may arise during the life of the contract.
In addition to the structure that paves the way for more collaborative decisionmaking, the new contract increases the number of student attendance days by eliminating three of the four Institute Days that traditionally have been scheduled. More student contact time also will be realized through efficiencies in scheduling and the reallocation of some teacher supervisory responsibilities.
Both teachers and administrators recognize that the changes they have approved will require training in collaboration and conflict resolution. That training began early in summer 1994 and will continue throughout this school year and beyond.
James E. Travis
Superintendent of Schools
Community Unit SD 200
130 West Park Ave.
Wheaton, IL 60187-6400
This profile was written by Wheaton Warrenville District 200.
Posted on March 6, 1995