Update, 3:15 p.m., Thurs. Jan. 17
From D46 Board President Ray Millingon:
"The parties met today and discussed possible changes to their positions but were unable to reach agreement. The Federal Mediator adjourned today’s session. Both sides will be getting back together on Sunday evening."
There will be no school Friday.
Update, 10:55 p.m., Wed. Jan. 16
The district posted the following statement on its Website in response to statements made by the union to the media following Tuesday's negotiating session:
As the teachers continue to engage in their strike, the D46 Board of Education would like to clarify some misinformation. In several interviews, the Union has stated that it already agreed to a salary freeze in the first year of the contract. In one report, the Union even stated that there was a tentative agreement on a first year freeze. This is not the case. There has never been a tentative agreement on a first year freeze. The teachers' salary proposal for the first year of the contract included a lane change at the cost of $133,000. This proposal also called for $1,080,000 of new costs in the second year of the contract. The Union has made it clear in the proposals it made public, that it will not accept a proposed soft salary freeze in the first year of the contract without adding significant costs to the second year.
Last night, the mediator presented a proposal that he believed represented a "middle ground" between the parties' positions. The Board appreciates those efforts, but it is ultimately the Board, and not the mediator, who must find the money to pay the increased costs of any agreement. During a time when the Board is facing serious multi-year budget deficits and declining revenue, this is not an easy task. When projecting budget deficits in excess of $2 million, adding more money to that deficit is not an obvious solution.
There is a misconception regarding the District's finances and its "reserve" funds. The Board's budget projects and end- of-fiscal-year balance in most operating funds, which when totaled is approximately $16,000,000. Sometimes these end- of-year balances are collectively referred to as a "reserve fund."
However, these balances are not akin to a savings account or "a rainy day fund." Rather, these fund balances fluctuate throughout the course of the fiscal year as revenue is received and expenses are paid. The end-of-fiscal-year fund balance is a snap-shot taken on June 30 of each year, after the receipt of the first installment of taxes. For example, over the course of the year, as revenue is received and expenses are paid, the Educational Fund experiences a low-point balance of only $1.9 million (equivalent to only 28 days of expenses). Every year of budget deficit will further erode the end-of-year fund balance and also further reduce the low-point of the fund and may cause the district to take out tax anticipated warrants, an additional cost to the district.
The Board understands that the teachers had hoped for higher salary increases. The Board has never contended that the teachers do not deserve a salary increase. Rather, the Board has stressed that any salary expectations of the teachers must be something the Board has the ability to finance. In the current economic situation, that ability is limited. The Board has tried to be mindful of the needs of its students, teachers, residents and taxpayers throughout this process. The Board looks forward to the next meeting with the Union in an effort to reach an agreement.
Update, 12:10 p.m. Wed. Jan. 16
District 46 Board President Ray Millington provided Patch the following statement in response to our request for comment on Tuesday's session:
The Grayslake CCSD 46 School Board met for an extended period of time on January 15 and several alternatives were discussed between the School Board and the teacher union. Unfortunately we could not reach agreement and the teachers gave notice that they will go on strike.
District 46 teachers, who went on strike Wednesday, agreed to accept a mediator's proposal at Tuesday's eleventh hour contract negotiation session, said Jim Pergander, business agent for Lake County Federation of Teachers Local 504.
"The union agreed to the mediator's proposal. The (school) board said no in the end."
Tuesday's session between the District 46 Board of Education and teachers' union last nearly eight hours. Anxious parents and community members waited until almost midnight for word on whether the strike would happen.
Parents received an automated phone call from the district, which also posted an update on its Website.
Pergander said both sides agreed not to divulge details of the mediator's proposal, but it was a two-year proposal that was "pretty middle of the road" and similar to the last proposal made on Nov. 28.
At that session, the school board agreed to a two-year teacher contract, but held firm on instituting a salary freeze with no step or lane changes. The board offered to give all certified staff who have not submitted a notice to retire a $1,000 stipend in year two, which would cost the district about $300,000.
The union, which had initially proposed a 3 percent salary increase for both contract years, agreed to continue working at their current 2011-12 salary schedule for next school year, but they asked for lane change compensation paid in February 2013, which would cost $200,000, and two salary steps scheduled for Sept. 2013 and March 2014, which would cost $750,000, according to the district.
The mediator's proposal on Tuesday was similar to the Nov. 28 proposal but called for a give and take from each side, said Pergander.
"The mediator told both sides there would be some hurt. He did the Solomon thing and cut it down the middle."
Pergander said the union was agreeable to the new proposal, which still called for teachers to continue working at their current salaries for the next school year, but with the second year's salary step compensation being modified from the Nov. 28 proposal.
"It was an amount less than what we were requesting, but more than the district was offering."
Pergander said the union thought the proposal was acceptable.
"We said let's go with it and keep school in session. We said we'll take it," but the board would not agree to it.
Patch has reached out to District 46 Board President Ray Millington for comment.
Pergander said the mediator told both sides he would get in touch with them before the weekend to schedule another negotiating session.
Check back with Patch for the latest strike updates.