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Letter to the Editor: An Alternative View of a 'Fair' Contract

Letter to the Editor: Resident Ron Skiba debates fairness of contract proposals.

At this point whether you support the District 46 Board of Education position or the teachers' union position, I think there is consensus that the longer the strike goes on, the more the kids are hurt. Per the signs they carried, all the teachers want is a fair contract.

From a previous article on the Grayslake Patch, the two proposals are this:

Board of Education: Two-year contract

Retirement:

  • 5.75% salary increase for four years if retirement notice submitted by March 1, 2013.
  • 3% for three years if notice submitted after March 1, 2013.

Compensation:

  • First year: No increase in salaries or stipends. No step or lane changes.
  • Second year: $1,000 off-schedule stipend for all certified staff who have not submitted for retirement.
  • Maintain at current levels professional growth at $110,000.
  • Flex payment ($6,292) for 1/3 of teachers.
  • 6% raises for retirees who already submitted retirement notice.

Teachers' Union: Two-year contract

Retirement:

  • 6% salary increase for four years if retirement notice submitted by March 1, 2013.
  • 5.75% for four years, three years if notice submitted after March 1, 2013.

Compensation:

  • First year: No increase in salaries or stipends. Lane changes allowed in Feb. 2013.
  • Second year: Two step movements: Sept. 2013 and March 2014. Current contract lane changes provisions.
  • Maintain at current levels professional growth at $110,00.
  • Flex payment ($6,292) for 1/3 of teachers.
  • 6% raises for retirees who already submitted retirement notice.

They disagree on two points, salary increase/percentage three to four years before retirement and staff increase/percent amounts for all non-retiring teachers.

I think the majority of us in our past employments have received increases based on our work performance with no guaranteed increase percentage regardless of how we performed.

I also believe that few, if any of us, ever receive guaranteed higher than standard increases for our last three to four years before we retire from our employer. So how about making a fair offer to the teachers that is more in line with the fair compensation standards that apply to the majority of the working people?

First, no more higher guaranteed salary increases the last three to four years from retirement, as this is not a standard business practice in any industry I am aware of. Our state is in a financial crisis because of pension mismanagement.

Giving additional income boosts in the years used to determine defined benefit retirement payments compounds the problem and is financially irresponsible. Whatever a teacher makes in their final three to four years without this boost is a fair business standard and should be used to determine the defined benefit amount they receive in retirement.

The final sticking point is compensation for teachers not retiring. I think applying standard business practices would be the fair way to address this.  Why not have a pool of funds that allows each teacher to receive up to a 3% increase based upon their work performance during the year.

Each school administration would be responsible for managing their 3% increase pool and would be responsible for fairly doing performance appraisals for each teacher in their school.

If you had a high performing teacher, you could give them more than 3% as long as you did not exceed your total 3% increase pool, but that would also mean poor performers would have to receive something less than 3%. It would also mean that higher performers would be more fairly rewarded for their efforts. To me, this would be the fair contract the teachers are asking for.

In the spirit of fairness, if additional revenue sources would be needed to help fund a 3% increase pool, I saw a suggestion posted earlier on Wednesday that seemed rational and fair to the tax payers.

Increase the student registration fees by $125 per student. Assuming 4,000 students, that would guarantee the district an additional $500,000 a year every year without fail. This also fairly puts the financial burden on those utilizing the schools, no different than the fees parents pay if they want their child in band, or football, or after school intramural programs.

I'm sure there will be those that don't believe what I have outlined is "fair" to teachers, but if it is "fair" for the majority of the working community, I don't see why they should be treated more fairly than the rest of us.

Ron Skiba

Grayslake

Peggy January 17, 2013 at 02:52 PM
I am a teacher working near Grayslake School Disctrict. The proposal posed by Ron Skiba is meaningful to me. It addresses the controversy very well and it makes very much sense. I would like to say also that not every teacher supports the strike, but you have to follow what the majority decides. Asking for a raise when we are struggling economically has never been a good approach in my mind. But, the older I grow, the more I realize that "common sense" appears to be a very exclusive and a rare attribute nowadays. Thank you, Ron Skiba, for your suggestions.
EOS January 17, 2013 at 05:53 PM
Well said, Mr. Skiba, I urge you to forward your article to the Board. We all need to be mindful that they have been advised to stay away from using journalistic and social media to communicate. Each board member's email is listed on the D46 website under administration. Communication has been easy to do from there.
Deadcatbounce January 17, 2013 at 05:53 PM
Nice proposal. Some current facts about the district ... The teachers average $57,000 a year for their 9 month gigs. The average per capita income in Grayslake is $36,031 a year. The teachers have fat pension plans that guarantee them around 85% of the average of their 3 highest years earning (plus health care coverage) for the rest of their lives. Only 43% of all American workers have any kind of pension coverage -- only 15% of workers in the non-government sector.
Ron Skiba January 17, 2013 at 06:48 PM
Ron Thanks EOS. I sent this letter to the three Board officers last night right after I sent it to the Patch. Not sure if it will be of use during their negotiations today but I thought I at least had to try. Due to the length of my letter I didn't really address the lane change issue but thought the idea mentioned in the Patch article regarding last night's meeting seemed logical and that was to give bonuses to those who received masters degrees rather than salary increases. A salary increase remains and escalates throughout someones entire time in in the district but I don't believe that a masters degree earned, say 20 years ago, would have much educational value today.
Forethe Community January 23, 2013 at 06:56 PM
350 people showed up Sunday in the freezing cold to support the teachers of their district. That’s: • 10 times the number that showed up for either of the For Our Children’s Future town halls. • 10 times the number, on average, that shows up to BOE meetings. • 5 times the number that have ever shown up for a BOE meeting (in recent history). 30 local business showed their support for the teachers by supplying food, providing parking, providing warming shelters, allowing access to their bathrooms, and donating cash to help teachers that might need it in a prolonged strike. Residual benefits went to local food banks through excess donations. That’s: • 10 times the number of local business’s that spoke at any levy hearing. • Equal to the number of attendants at any For Our Children’s Future town Hall. • Equal to or greater than the average attendance at a BOE meeting. Actions speak louder than words. I applaud the board for listening to the public. I only wish the silent majority had been more vocal at the levy hearings. It’s too late to do what the public really wanted.

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