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D46 Special Meeting Ends with No Discussion or Action

Despite the agenda including discussion and action on the pending teacher strike, Monday's special board meeting ended without any information for the public following an hour-long executive session.

Monday's special meeting called by the District 46 School Board was a dud for the public who expected some discussion and possible action related to the looming teacher strike, per the meeting agenda.

Only a handful of people, mostly teachers, attended the meeting, which had been rescheduled from 1 p.m. at the district office to 6:30 p.m. at Grayslake Middle School.

Prior to entering in to executive session, the board took public comment.

Bridget Hengels, a fifth-grade teacher at Woodland Intermediate School in District 50, whose son attends Park School, asked the board what they hoped to accomplish with the special meeting "besides hurting your teachers, inconveniencing your parents and giving me the impression that you care very little for our teachers and I care very much for these teachers."

"My impression is that you would not continue mediating over the holiday so all you're doing is hurting the teachers and the parents."

The board was in executive session for about an hour.

"We don't have any action item to vote on," said board president Ray Millington upon the board's return to open session.

He added district would be releasing a public statement that would "come out in a day or so" and that "it does relate to our discussion related to the pending strike."

Rumors have been swirling that the board is considering a teacher lockout, which remains to be seen. The union's strike date remains set for Jan. 16.

Resident Sabrina Galiano criticized the board for calling the special meeting with little notice for the community, though Patch first reported it Friday morning, when it was originally scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday.

"If we don't have anything to discuss, why did you call it so quickly," asked Galiano. "Why can we not have any answers?"

Check back with Patch for updates on this story and the release of the district's pending statement.

D46 Parents Want to Talk to Teachers' Union

UPDATED: Some Give but No Takers in District 46 Bargaining

Chris December 18, 2012 at 07:23 AM
The focus of this debate should not be on the teachers whether they deserve a raise or not. It should be on the board members and the superintendent and how they have put the district in a 1.2 million dollar budget deficit! This just didn't happen overnight! I hear talk how union isn't doing justice to newly hired teachers because they will be rift! Well they will be rift regardless of a teacher pay increase because the BOARD is running a 1.2 million dollar deficit! How do you think the district is going to get back to a balance budget? Maybe consider a 4 year contract with pay freezes first two years and get raises in 3rd and 4th year. This would give board, teachers and public what they want. Can get a new board in who know how to get good results, make the tough decisions,, show teachers they matter, show tax payers they are fiscally responsible. I hear a certain board member and some public members who do not want to cut programs or staff. It has to happen to get back to a balance budget without substantially raising taxes! You cannot solve a problem with the same thinking that got you into the problem. I am becoming more involved and I’m not fully up to speed on everything yet. I heard it mentioned how Park was paid for just not sure on terminology. I am wondering where the money was going to come from to pay to staff and to maintain Park school? Why wasn’t closing one of the schools thought about when Park was being built? C, Certa
Interested parent December 18, 2012 at 12:39 PM
The $1.2M deficit is largely the fault of the state of Illinois. I'm quite tired of hearing how the board got us into this position. And to argue that a two year pay freeze, followed by two years of raises, will satisfy the community members, is insane. The last time D46 teachers went without a raise was 1972!! Perhaps in two years we will be in a better place...we can't say that one way or the other today. Why not give up the $1,800 bonus? Our the $6,992 stipend for not taking health insurance? It's more than just the raise, it's the culmination of everything. If it were me, I would forego my 4% raise so that my fellow teachers weren't let go. But hey, that's me.
Joe Fox December 18, 2012 at 07:10 PM
Chris, Great comments! I and many residents of D46 agree with you 100%! Where is the board's 3 to 5 year plan? What expense reductions (other than teachers salaries!) are they projecting? What major savings have they been able to achieve over the past few years? (I'd like to see a year-on-year list!) In the public meeting, I believe I heard that the board had NO future plans. The superintendent said that they were just starting to investigate health insurance savings. Why hasn't this been done over the past few years instead of waiting til now? Is this what we get out of a superintendent whom we pay $200k per year???? In the private sector, this would not be acceptable and most likely lead to a termination. They have been dragging their feet in finding expense reductions and now throwing up their hands and trying to take their lack of effort out on teachers' salaries! What a shame!
Terri December 18, 2012 at 07:42 PM
What is the $1,800 bonus you mention? The $6,292 ( not $6,992) is benefit...not stipend. Teachers that take health insurance actually cost this district more.
Pete Gardner December 18, 2012 at 08:35 PM
Well, I'm going to respectfully disagree with you Chris and Joe. This discussion is not about if anyone deserves an increase.Most everyone agrees that no matter what the profession, if you are doing good work you deserve an increase. However, the discussion is about whether an increase can be responsibly paid for. Like you, I do not have all the answers. I don't think anyone does, not the board, not the administration, not the union, and not us who sit on the sidelines. Rather than blame the board, past and present, or the administration, or the teachers, wouldn't it be more productive to try and offer solutions? I know posters that say they have offered only to be denied. My sincere hope is that the community, which includes all of us, can come together and keep trying! Try! Try! Try! There is no shame in being turned down but there is no one to blame if you don't offer to become part of the solution. It's easy to say what is good or bad or should or shouldn't be done, but will any of us step up and offer, with genuine intent, solution to help? I am going to try. I hope others will too.
Joe Fox December 18, 2012 at 09:24 PM
I believe Chris offered a good solution ... 2 years of freezes and raises years 3 & 4. And starting immediately, the board and superintendent should layout a cost-savings plan for the next 4 years. Also, since I believe our tax base is the primary "root cause" of current issues, the board and/or community should seriously consider a campaign to either 1) re-district D46 boundaries, or 2) consolidate with another district, preferably D127. Apparently D127's tax base provides much more sustainability. Many cost savings could be achieved in eliminating duplicate administrations and gaining economies of scale for more buying power for goods and services. Also, for those of us with children in both D46 and D127, holiday, spring break, and summer break calenders could be synchronized.
Pete Gardner December 18, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Joe, I hope the board and administration read and take into consideration your (and Chris's) suggestions. I think your solution of redistricting has merit and is worthy of research and discussion. I have no knowledge of how long that process would take to achieve consolidation but several years would be my initial guess. 3 to 5 year plan is exactly what is needed. Good idea! Here's where we disagree: 3-4 year contract. I believe a poster here refered to this as "kicking the can down the road" and as someone who spent his life in small business, I agree. The best of planning and projection can't predict the economic future, especially in this state. Given the changes the state is likely to make along with other influences like healthcare, none of us can predict the effect on the district's budget, general state aid, or the impact on the taxpayer. I say move forward cautiously and carefully but don't commit to something you don't know that you will have.
Terri December 18, 2012 at 10:17 PM
The last time D46 did that was in 85/86. D46 was in financial straits so they absorbed the healthy D47 Avon K-8 district. They blew through that in 10-12 years. Doubt any existing district would want any part of that in lieu of our history. Good idea though. The reason a 4 year contract might be a good idea is that if gives everyone time to fulfill promises and commitments. In that case, consider: 1) freeze steps '12/'13 & '13/'14. CPI for the next 2 years. 2) limit lanes to a fixed $ amount. Anyone having already invested in & earned a lane gets it for '11/'12 & '12/'13. No lanes for the next 2 years. 3) eliminate end of career raises over time. Create a matrix of age, years of service and increase percentage to scale them back over time. Should only take 4 or 5 years. 4) any change in health care benefits should be tied to successfully putting health care out to bid first, then weighing the savings against the sacrifice.
Interested parent December 18, 2012 at 10:57 PM
@Terri: There is a $1500 or $1800 bonus/stipend/incentive - not arguing symantecs - that has been mentioned many times in the negotiations posted on the IL BOE. Yes, I realize that it costs more to the District to pay for the health insurance of those who chose to take it. However you shouldn't be paid for a benefit you choose not to take. That is simply not a smart practice, and I have no idea why it's being done in Grayslake. And it's only a benefit when you take the benefit in the form of health insurance. When you take in cash, it's a stipend, payment, call it what you want. It's not a benefit. In as far as the suggestion to redistrict, it may sound great theoretically, but it's not realistic. The other school districts would have to agree to forgoe the taxable income they're drawing now, which they aren't going to do.
Terri December 18, 2012 at 11:14 PM
The "bonus" or "stipend" offered by the board is $1,000. The union isn't interested. Your math errors ( the $800 overstated bonus & $700 overstated flex benifit) add up to about $335,000...over 30% of the district budget deficit. Please be careful when you quote numbers. Teachers are all paid the same. 200 choose to take health care through the district group, and 128 choose to participate in other groups. No one is paid not to take insurance.
Joe Fox December 19, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Looking at the boundary maps of D46 & D127, one can see that D46 is totally contained within D127. In other words, ALL elementary D46 students will attend D127 high schools (except of course those that attend private schools). By looking at the aerial map, it appears that the entire voting constituency of D46 reperesents the MAJORITY of the D127 voting constituency. Therefore, D46 voters should carry the weight in a consolidation decision. Am I looking at this correctly?
Terri December 19, 2012 at 02:00 AM
No. It's the elementary districts (lake villa, round lake, third lake) that would have to agree
Jose Cuervo December 19, 2012 at 02:01 PM
@ Chris: "I hear a certain board member and some public members who do not want to cut programs or staff. It has to happen to get back to a balance budget without substantially raising taxes! You cannot solve a problem with the same thinking that got you into the problem." There is an election coming up. Run with that as your slogan and see how much support you get. The community will eat you alive! The most active public becomes is when there are threats of cuts. A refrehser, 2009: 29 staff members were given the notices (RIF - reduction in force, not RIFT). That was done to alleviate a deficit. Brad Goldstein noted then that the spending in the district would lead us to exactly where we are. Nothing changed. That was before any new members were seated in 2011. You have 4 board members who have bucked every idea, every thought outside their own stale thought process It is them, the majority, along with several other factors, that led us to where we are, not the board member and public members who don't want to cut programs or staff. Cutting staff and programs in 2009 didn't fix where we are today and it won't do it now. You have to control your expenditures and not increase them at a pace faster than your intake of revenue.
Chris December 19, 2012 at 08:53 PM
Jose, I appreciate you correcting me on reduction in force (RIF). The Board has made cuts to the expenses reducing their expenditure’s. That is great. In my opinion (Which may or may not be correct) I think the District may have exhausted all the options of cutting expenses which do not involve staff reductions and to programs. Joe, Pete, and Terri have expanded on possible solutions to the on going teacher negotiations and financial stability of the district. I did not see any suggestions in your reply. So, what is a viable solution? Thank you, Chris
Karen Hord December 20, 2012 at 12:24 AM
At the time Park was built, Prairieview, GMS and Frederick were all overcrowded schools. Park was also built to accomodate additional houses that had been approved by Round Lake for the western part of D46. Though Park would have received some developer donations from the home builders, it is a drop in the bucket of what a school building costs, and the developer donations are strictly used for bricks and mortar. The cost of the educational staff of a school building is not covered, and due to the lag of collectng taxes on new housing, all districts take a financial hit. The growth in Grayslake over the past 25 years has been due to the 7 towns that send kids to D46 schools approving the new subdivisions. The school district is left with the responsibility of figuring out how to come up with the money educating the influx of kids. If those same villages have not also included a mix of business properties into the equation, the taxpayers are hit with the bill. Add the problem of Round Lake Beach approving a TIF district in the late 1980's, which prevented D46 & D127 from collecting their full share of property taxes from the old Walmart shopping center for 20 years. Funny how once that TIF district was retired, Walmart moved out of D46 and hastened the decine and value of that shopping center, further hurting our tax base.
Karen Hord December 20, 2012 at 12:25 AM
The districts suffer from the decisions of the towns, but the state is a whole other issue. Unfunded mandates, skipped payments, pension robbing. By state constitution the state is supposed to have the "primary" responsibility, but they have not lived up to it. As for the consolidation of D46 and D127, WON'T happen. They do not share the same boundaries or tax base. It would be a process failed to doom. You want real change in the financial picture for our schools then lobby your towns for more business growth and lobby your state reps for proper school funding and reform at the state level. Without change on these 2 ends, we will remain in a tax hole.

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