About 30 residents attended an informal meeting Wednesday night at Grayslake's State Bank of the Lakes to hear Lennie Jarratt, founder of the citizens' group "For Our Children's Future," present his ideas for District 46's financial sustainability and to discuss the teacher strike, which is headed into a second day.
The goal of his organization, said Jarratt, is to find "out-of-the-box solutions" to school district finance problems.
Referring to the District 46 teacher strike, Jarratt presented slides detailing the contract proposals of the union and school board. He said he believed both sides were "at fault" for allowing negotiations to turn into a full-on strike.
"It's a power play to me," he said.
Jarratt, a one-time senate candidate and founder of the Lake County Tea Party, criticized the board for what he sees as a continual disregard for making wise financial decisions. He also chastised the union for refusing to recognize that the district has no money to give teachers the raises they seek.
While referencing several district-released documents, including one that detailed the dwindling fund balance, which is projected to drop to a dangerously low $1.9 million by May, Jarratt advised that tax anticipation warrants, referendum requests and a possible state takeover were not unrealistic consequences of making poor financial decisions.
Regarding teacher compensation, Jarratt suggested the district enter into a 5-year contract agreement with the union instead of two years to end the cycle of frequent negotiations.
He also proposed an end to salary schedules and the elimination of end-of-career salary increases for retiring teachers. Lane changes, suggested Jarratt, should become a one-time bonus, not a part of a teacher's regular salary structure. All of these would save the district money, he said.
One resident in the audience said he wanted a teacher's perspective on Jarratt's suggestions, though no one in attendance indicated they were a teacher.
Another resident said he felt the strike was more about money than doing what was best for the students. Jarratt responded that like police officers and firefighters, teachers should not be allowed to go on strike.
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