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D46 Parents Want to Talk to Teachers' Union

The District 46 School Board hosted a 'Town Meeting' Tuesday to discuss teacher contract negotiations and have a dialogue with residents concerned over the looming strike date.

At least 100 residents attended a "Town Meeting" hosted by the District 46 School Board Tuesday to hear the district and union's best and final contract offers, ask questions and voice concerns for what happens next.

"What are we supposed to do when the teachers go on strike?"

"Is it all about money or what's best for my child?"

"What can we do as parents to help?"

These were just a few of the questions raised by parents at the meeting who thanked the board for hosting the forum but also expressed a strong desire for the union to afford the community the same opportunity for dialogue.

D46 Supt. Ellen Correll said she would relay to the union that parents are interested in a meeting of their own, to hear their side, but it would be the union's prerogative to have a sit down with the community.

Final offers

The school board says the ball is in the union's court where contract proposals are concerned, but the district is willing to return to the table for further discussion prior to the Jan. 16 strike date set by the union last month.

"There has got to be some give and take, said Ray Millington, board president. "We are waiting for a response to our proposal. We have left the door open."

Since contract negotiations began last February, there have been 12 sessions between the union and district and four sessions with a federal mediator present.

The last negotiating session was held Nov. 28, at which time both sides presented their best and final offers. There was some give, but no takers. No other sessions have been scheduled.

The district has agreed to a two-year teacher contract, but is holding firm on instituting a salary freeze with no step or lane changes. However, the board has 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.

Initially, the union proposed a 3 percent salary increase for both contract years.

Teachers now agree to continue working at their current 2011-12 salary schedule for next school year, but they want 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.

There is no money to give teachers pay raises, said officials. The budget already has a $1.2 million deficit that will only increase if teacher salaries are increased, said Anna Kasprzyk, chief school business official. The increased tax levy won't relieve the deficit either, she advised. In fact, the district could reach a negative fund balance in 2018.

The union contends teacher salaries are already below average in comparison to other area districts, and that the district can afford to pay raises given the $8.2 million surplus it reported to the Illinois State Board of Education.

According to the board, the district will see a $1.45 million reduction in general state aid compared with 2012, and federal grant revenue is anticipated to decrease by about 25 percent. The board says it has no other sources of revenue to pay teacher salary increases, nor does it have any available long-term borrowing capacity.

What if?

Throughout the meeting, parents voiced their concerns, frustrated that they could not have such a dialogue with the union.

"I fully support teachers. The vast majority are excellent," said one parent. "But things are really tight right now. When was the last time teachers did not get a raise?"

This question drew chuckles from the audience. "As far as I know, it's never happened," said Correll.

Other parents asked questions about the fallout from a strike. They questioned whether striking teachers would still be paid, how missed days would be made up, and whether buildings would be open and staffed with non-certified employees.

Striking teachers would not be paid, said the board, and what the district will do about missed days has yet to be determined.

The state's legal minimum requirement for a school year is 176 instructional days. Each day lost and not made up equates to a $34,000-a-day loss of state funds, said Kasprzyk.

In the event of a strike, the board said non-certified staff would not be working either.

Correll said she has reached out to the district's Champions childcare program, which agreed to offer programs from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Meadowview and Prairieview schools for $33 per day, per student, a price some parents balked at.

Some parents also urged the board to make a move and request more talks at the table, once a week until the strike date, if necessary.

"We want to do everything we can to avoid a strike," assured Millington.

The board plans to host a second town meeting on Jan. 9.

Terri December 15, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Why not cancel winter break, have the kids and teachers in school, and get both sides to the table?
HAL E BERGER December 15, 2012 at 04:01 PM
This is wishful thinking accounting folks. This district is in deficit as I understand it and incorrectly reading the budget does ot make a positive cash flow. Please p;eople if your going to qwork so hard do it accuarately. I suggest you need to talk to the D46 superintendent, the board, and the business manager and not each other. That is not how public accountiing works there is no rainy day fund like this there are ongoing bills all year to pay from property tax distributions that are not every month but only once or twice per year while payments extend for the full year. .
HAL E BERGER December 15, 2012 at 04:07 PM
This is wishful thinking accounting folks. This district is in deficit as I understand it and incorrectly reading the budget does not make it become a positive cash flow. Please people if your going to work so hard fighting about facts do it accuarately. I suggest you need to talk to the D46 superintendent, the board, and the business manager and not each other. Many of these comments are not how public accounting works which is different than cash flow accountiing in the private sector. There is very limited if any rainy day fund and when a district is in deficit it is not likely there is any rainy day fund that is real at all. There are ongoing bills all year to pay from property tax distributions that are not every month but only once or twice per year while payments extend for the full year the budget may have cash today but it is earmarked and probably spent.
WorriedParent December 15, 2012 at 04:35 PM
I guess that went over your head, why get the kids involved in this? Teachers are grown ups. Let them get these negotiations going over the winter break. Meet with their union, come back with something other than flyers being passed out. Kids don't lose any school and teachers don't lose pay because, as you indicated, they don't get paid during breaks....only for 190 days of work. Wait for a strike, they lose pay.
WorriedParent December 15, 2012 at 04:37 PM
BTW, looks like the Monday meeting is at 6:30pm at GMS and not 1:00 like the Patch original reported. Guess they want more of the community to come?
Terri December 15, 2012 at 05:08 PM
I understand the function of cash on hand. There would not be a negative balance, at any time the budget covers, until 2015. And that's if the deficit continued. It clearly cannot. A good contract can build in savings over time and a good board can find even more.
Jose Cuervo December 15, 2012 at 05:29 PM
@ Terri: "A good board can find even more".......LOL! Seriously? Maybe the meeting on monday is so the board can rub two pennies together and then plant a money tree?! Riddle me this Terri, what is the motivation of the board to lie about the financial status of the district? Do you really, do the teachers really believe that the board is just sitting on piles of money that they don't want to part with? Do you think that the auditors, state, PMA, and administrators of this district are all in cahoots creating spreadsheets and manipulating numbers so that they can withhold funds from the staff? Quite a conspiracy theory you have. I'll ask you again Terri, what would the motive be to withhold funds, hide money, sit on stockpiles of cash, knowing the teachers are completely willing to strike and force the kids out of the school?
Terri December 15, 2012 at 05:29 PM
In my scenario, the kids wouldn't miss any school, teachers wouldn't lose any pay, there would be no strike or lockout. Teachers don't lose pay in a strike. The school year gets extended and they still work 190 days with pay.
Terri December 15, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Jose Someone could show you the money and you'd jump on the wagon to refund it to taxpayers. You're a very bitter person with an axe to grind.
Jose Cuervo December 15, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Terri I'll say it again, you don't know me. I disagree with your opinion. I challenge your thinking and you ascribe that to bitterness?! You are quick to judge another but unwilling to hear their point. I have a vested interest in making sure my son isn't forced into missing his scheduled days of education. I have a vested interest in keeping a roof over his head. I have a vested interest in making sure I'm not blindly following the words or numbers of one side when they aren't willing to sit publicly and explain it. Why won't someone answer the very simple question without assuming there is an axe to grind behind it? I really would like to hear the explanation from anyone who actually knows the answer: What would the motive be to withhold funds, hide money, sit on stockpiles of cash? You have 7 people who can't agree on what color the sky is but they agree to withhold available funds???
PB&J December 15, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Does anyone remember the year when the school board said there wasn't money in the budget to pay for art and music? They cut those programs and shortened the school day for an entire school year. New board members were elected, and all of a sudden there was money found in the budget ! All programs were reinstated and the school day no longer shortened. Just wondering if we're going down the same road again.
Terri December 15, 2012 at 07:44 PM
I don't care who you are; that's Hal, Lisa and Mr Jarratt's neurosis. There is no motive to withhold funds. The posters on this board just don't like teachers. The poorest people in this community have the most respect for teachers. They know they care, feed & clothe them because they cannot. They may not have the biggest tax bills, but they get it.
Lennie Jarratt December 15, 2012 at 08:18 PM
LOL, I find it funny how you continue to make up stuff and attack me personally. It seems you have a unhealthy obsession with me. PB&J, you are correct. The new board members back then found ways to cut the waste, save money and restore the programs. It didn't happen immediately, but it happened. The current board (gang of 4 - Millington, Facklam, Surroz, Weinert) appear to not be interested in finding solutions since they killed the Finance Committee and reject nearly every idea that does not come from their side. The gang of 4 have become petty and detrimental to long term quality education of the children in the district.
Terri December 15, 2012 at 09:04 PM
Lets just attack them personally...LOL
HAL E BERGER December 16, 2012 at 12:15 AM
Terri - no wonder your in the shadows -- pure nonsense. Let me clarify because you refuse to use reason. Poor or rich doesn't make a difference we all want good teachers, small classs sizes, and art and music. I talk about budgets, the community, the deficit spending, the impact of further debt on both teachers and then later on our children's education aand on class size and potential cutbacks in deficit. Let me be very clear, I have no issues with teachers never have there are three in my home and if we had the money I would support writing the check for all of them everywhere. Terri you seem to attack people for wanting to be reasonable and becuase many of us don't agree that deficit spending is reasonable. A ludicrous strike when this district is broke,,,it isn't an attack on teachers it is just simply nonsense for the D46's future. By the way the teachers can vote to change that. The union is not in charge of the strike they are... Who do I blame - I think we need to look at the union for telling teachers this is a good idea when the economy sucks, & for teachers for not taking the time to think this through & for not trusting D46 Admin or facing the economic reality of the times. Teachers voted to strike & they didn't have to they could settle for reality for now. Sad, unions have a problem because this is what unions are doing across the country to try to prove they have value to their members &it hurts their members and community terribly.
Angela Sykora (Editor) December 16, 2012 at 01:18 AM
Thanks WorriedParent: This is news to me. I never received notice of the time change.
HM December 16, 2012 at 04:21 AM
I would love for you to give me one concrete example of any tax-payer funded entity where this has happened. Sure - pay me today and I'll make cuts in the future. That is pure folly! The fed government, the state of Illinois, and countless other states have made such "promises", only to continue to increase spending, and look where THAT has gotten us.
PB&J December 16, 2012 at 06:36 AM
Jose C- Great working conditions ... the teacher's in the district have nothing to complain about? Are you kidding me? The completely inept school board is enough to make terrible working conditions! Not to mention the instability caused by the loss of three principals in the past two years. Avon for example, didn't have it's own principal for several years (having Barkley do double duty as Asst. Supt./Curriculum director AND principal of Avon) Since her leaving they have yet to even talk about replacing her Curriculum position. Also, for several years the district had no Director of Special Services. The teachers in the district have plenty to complain about( and I didn't even mention the two non air conditioned buildings!)! What happens on the school board and administration directly impacts the teachers!
PB&J December 16, 2012 at 06:40 AM
Lennie- I think Facklam and Weinert were on the board that helped to reinstate art and music back into the school day.
Tara Strain December 16, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Terri. Being that you are a teacher, I want to politely suggest that you take a more mature and less aggressive stance. Your posts sound bitter and mean and frankly pretty selfish. How rude to assume that the poor are the only ones who care for our teachers. How selfishly assuming to say they are the ones who feed & clothe them. Students in this district are losing their homes. I remember similar posts from you and your D46 connected husband during the election days. Some things don't change. The solution to this problem is not going to come from your bitterness. Grace, understanding, and coming together as a community to seek a resolution is all we have. As long as you continue to point fingers, you will be creating divisions. Set the example for more unity. Do not allow yourself to become so negatively entrenched as a part of the problem.
Terri December 16, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Tara I guess you can join the Hal, Lisa and Lennie club. First, I am not a teacher. I've made that very clear. 2nd, I am single...no husband or wife. So, I'll ask again...what does a good teacher deserve?
Jose Cuervo December 16, 2012 at 03:31 PM
PB&J - your post honestly hurts my heart. It hurts it because I know many teachers who love it here. The parents, myself included, do what we can to show appreciation, help in classrooms, support the PTO. We have absolute appreciation of those who work here and truly do it because they love it. No work environment is perfect. But you've indicated it is horrible to work here. I dont believe most share your sentiment. However, if there are those who do, may I suggest seeking employment elsewhere? There is a class from SIU that graduated last weekend and are now seeking employment, I am sure most of them could tolerate working here.
Lennie Jarratt December 16, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Continuing on with the unfounded personal attacks I see. It's hard to have an honest an open discussion with such antics.
Tara Strain December 16, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Terri, what do our soldiers on the front line deserve? It's not a question you answer on a whim. Defining "deserve" is very tough in a fractured economy. Ideally, I think every working person deserves a raise once a year. What that amount is, how it's determined, or if it's even financially possible, I'm not sure. I personally believe that tenure can lead to complacency. If a teacher is great, regardless of their length of service, they should have job security. I think it's awful that families are not covered under our teachers' health plans (if that is in fact the case). I do not think that any teacher should be making over 6 figures, that includes administrators. I truly and honestly do not understand the financials, so I have not speculated on the specifics of those issues. I do know that I loved my kids' teachers while we were there, that I'm still a taxpayer in the district, and that my ultimate goal in posting is for the two sides to work together. The worst decision I've seen so far is picketing in front of the children on a day when they were to be the ones to shine. What poor examples we set sometimes. It's unfortunate to me Terri that you continue to play the blame game while hiding under an alias. What I respect about you though is that you care enough about this issue to be on here posting. If you felt that your input provided a workable and sustainable resolution, instead of barriers to unity, you'd post your real name.
PB&J December 16, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Jose, I sincerely apologize of my post being so negative. I am just opposed to the notion that everything is perfect for the teachers in district 46 that you stated. The teachers do love working in district 46. They love working with students and their parents. It is the school board and their lack of professionalism and policies that do ultimately effect the teachers. (there was a board member last year who wanted to investigate every teacher's absence on a particular day!) There are a lot of issues, many unknown to the public, that do not occur in any other district that I know of... This is not all a case of terrible unions, there are some legitimate issues with this board. And of course teachers are not going to speak ill publicly about the board.
the10thinning December 16, 2012 at 06:06 PM
The board will let the strike last two weeks, not having to make payroll for two weeks will save the district some money and then they will agree on a contract with some give and take on both parts.
HAL E BERGER December 16, 2012 at 09:36 PM
Hi Terra Strain - Although you are correct whatever Terri is or is not that name is acting like what my kids call an internet troll. My kids say an internet troll is a person who won't identify themselves but throws stones to get people excited and creates trouble without sound solutions or reasonable responses. We don't know who Terri, or others like her are, Terri, could be a man, a woman, a child, a student, a teacher, or perhaps even a clandestine union rep stirring the pot. Terri can claim to be anyone, this is the internet people here don’t always tell the truth unidentified they have nothing at stake in the game However today the politics here in D46, and nationally, has been to attack people you don't agree with personally and often. Do it harder especially when you don't have a valid argument. Teachers are not the issue D46, deficit spending, future cuts that I am certain will come later and will certainly impact our children to make up for any strike outcomes and costs. Yes the union might win while at the same time the children, the teachers and the community and D46 don’t. These costs are real and there is no district long term credit card. My view is simple the district should not deficit spend and the teachers can choose not to go on strike and face reality.
HAL E BERGER December 16, 2012 at 09:38 PM
Actually you have not said who you are at all -- !!!
John Bellomo December 18, 2012 at 02:58 PM
I am real all right, I am a disabled Veteran of 20 years decorated Navy service, I read like the Onion? Really? Have you ever suffered so much pain that you cannot get out of bed, do you wear metal in several parts of your body? If not then shut your pie hole....I do not have stockpiles of drugs laying around, I have what is prescribed for pain and nerve damage. I also do not need to be telling you my personal business but have already shared. The stockpiles are in all of the other parents homes. Don't put your head in the sand, every parent of a high school student has had drugs missing and think they just miscounted. Kids know they can get up to $5 bucks a pill it is easy cash. I dare everyone to get a home drug test kit that includes the mentioned medications and test your kids.
Niner 1 December 20, 2012 at 04:05 AM
If tonight's choir concert at GMS is any indication they will be back tomorrow night for the band concert. Which makes me not want to go to my daughter's concert. I am all for Lock Them Out!

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