Bement teachers and school support staff will net salary increases of 4.13, 4.54 and 3.19 percent over the next three years under a contract approved by the school board and teacher’s union.

The school district will also increase the monthly insurance benefit from the current $565 per month to $660 by the third year of the agreement.

And it only took one day of negotiations on May 24 to iron out the contract.

I believe both sides had similar goals in mind, which helped us get the contract finished in one day,” said Bement Education Association President Stephanie Eccles. “We all wanted to increase teacher pay and increase the board paid portion of health insurance. The BEA and board of education have a great relationship and we see that continuing in the future.”

School Superin-tendent Sheila Greenwood agreed, saying that, with the current teacher shortage in Illinois, pay raises were needed.

We wanted to work on retention and attracting teachers, too,” said Greenwood, noting the contract covers approximately 55 employees. “You don’t want a revolving door. You want to do the best you can to keep your staff. We may not have the highest salary schedule, but once people come they tend to stay here.”

The school board approved the contract at its June 25 meeting. Teachers had already approved it unanimously at a union meeting.

The one-day bargaining session was not a surprise to either side.

Bement, when they do their negotiations, it’s almost always one day. There was only one time it went a second day. That’s their tradition,” added Greenwood.

For base insurance packages, the increase in district contributions will cover all but $1 per paycheck, according to the superintendent.

I am very happy for the teachers. It’s one of those things where we wanted to show our appreciation,” she added.”

One difference is the length of the contract, one year longer than previous ones. Greenwood said that was agreed to so that the next superintendent would not have negotiations to deal with in their first year. Although Greenwood has not given official notice, she plans to retire in two years.