D218 Teacher Contract Talks Stall

Community High School District 218 board declares an impasse and makes last and best offer to teachers union.

Contract talks between the CHSD 218 Board of Education and the teachers’ union have gone into deadlock and are now being handled by a federal mediator.

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D218 teachers’ four-year contract is set to expire on the first day of school on August 20. The union, which represents teachers at , and Eisenhower High Schools, and the Delta Learning Center, rejected the district school board’s first offer in May.

“The contract went to mediation,” Bradley Wright said, president of IEA Local 218 and a science teacher at Eisenhower. “The district just decided they wanted to go to mediation and decided that they were at their last and best offer.”

Both the school board and teachers union have had three sessions with the federal mediator. At the last session on July 9, board members declared they were an impasse.

“We’re trying to settle,” D218 Superintendent John Byrne said. “Usually everything comes down to two factors, salaries and health and welfare.”

Since the last session with the mediator, D218 has submitted its “last and best offer” to the teachers’ union. By law, both sides have seven days to respond.

The teachers’ union has submitted its own offer, but it isn’t the teachers’ “last and best.” Both are posted on the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board website.

Wright said the union rejected the district’s May offer outright, and since then, the bargaining team has been trying to meet D218 board legal counsel Burt Odelson’s desires to take the district’s last and best offer to the union membership.

“In the summer it’s hard to meet with people and [Odelson’s] not happy with that,” Wright said.

Read the pdfs of the offer and counteroffer.

Sticking points in the negotiations are increases to teachers’ monthly contributions to health insurance. The district also wants to double and quadruple teachers’ co-pays for network doctors and specialists.

“The take-home pay to some of our staff is going to be less than it was,” Wright said. “What we’re asking for is well within the district’s budget and still allows them to maintain huge surpluses that the district has been running up for years.”

The district and teachers are stalemated on base salary increases over the next four years. D218 has proposed base salary increases of 2.32%, 2.33%. 2.30% and 2.36% through the 2015-16 school year. Teachers are asking for 3.54%, 3.58%, 3.82% and 3.67% increases.

According to the latest information provided by the district to the state, the average salary for a D218 teacher with 10.1 years of experience is $80,496.

Byrne said the total operating budget for all four of the district schools is $100 million. D218 is required by state code to maintain a reserve of 2/3 of its annual operating budget, and that D218 has been deficit spending.

“The district has not offered or shown reasoning or proof that they are hurting financially,” Wright said. “With him using that as an excuse is a surprise to me.”

The district superintendent added that the teachers’ union has not contacted the board about setting up another meeting with mediator. Wright said that his union has contacted the district with some potential meeting dates.

“I sent an email to the federal mediator and copied the entire bargaining team for teachers and the district. We offered three dates from August 1 and the district is not happy with that,” Wright said. “For them to tell you they haven’t heard from us is an out and out lie.”

Wright added that the union’s bargaining team has received several emails from Odelson chastising the union for not acting sooner.

“We’re waiting to meet with members and get their input,” Wright said. “We have to give them the opportunity to have input through the negotiating team. We have offered the district dates for next week. The mediator responded yesterday he is available for two dates. The district hasn’t agreed yet.”

The teachers’ union has a tentative meeting date set for next week. Wright said it is the union’s desire to meet with the district’s bargaining team immediately after. Conceivably, teachers can continue to work under the old contract when school starts next month until a new agreement is hammered out.

So far, nobody is using the “S” word – strike – but Wright said the D218 board is forcing the union to look at other options.

“A strike is the last thing that anybody would want,” he said. “We’re not even talking about that yet. We are willing to get this done at the bargaining table. We want to get it done at the bargaining table. Our proposal is well within the budget that won’t cause the district to have to raise taxes.”

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frustrated teacher August 01, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Unlike a private school, a public school can't "get rid of" students with learning challenges or habits counterproductive to learning. This is not meant as an excuse, but rather a reminder to those who have been away from school for a while- public schools face complex cultural problems and to expect easy solutions is naive. To blame teachers for these complex problems is unfair. To compare my job to that of my husband who works in a private school is absurd! To compare the public school classroom of today to the one in which I sat in 1970 is ridiculous. All this misinformation is used as justification to steal from our pension system and cut our pay. When teachers try to educate those on the present situation in schools or the complexity of the issues, they are accused of whining or making excuses. It's pretty demoralizing.... but my colleagues and I are not giving up on our students- we don't expect accolades or praise (as teachers received in 1970)- we just want to be treated fairly, and we want our kids to learn what they need to be successful, contributing members of society.
concerned community member August 06, 2012 at 11:47 PM
Out of those average incomes in the households, how many of them have 6 years of college under their belt? These teachers spend years and money on becoming specialists to educate our children, would you rather just have lower qualifications for teachers? Maybe just a high school degree or an associates degree?? We talk about the average ACT score of an 18? Lets talk about graduation rate and college placement along with the improvements in the test scores over the years. Many of these students in the district come from low income households where they receive little support from their guardians. The teachers are not asking for any more tax money from the community, they are just asking to use the tax money that is just going to waste. You should be asking why has the school board asked for the max tax of 7% every year and they are not using it. They are keeping it just to keep their A+ financial rating. Deficit spending...yeah right. Finally, if you think teachers really only work 7 hours a day or 160 days a year, you are completely wrong. Most teachers bring home their grading, lesson planning, coaching, activities, etc every night and throughout the summer to improve the lives of our children.
concerned community member August 06, 2012 at 11:59 PM
All the teachers in 218 pay their own pension, it is called TRS, it comes out of every paycheck. The teacher union has also offered to pay more of their health insurance than their last contract but the school board wants even more. Administrators do not pay into their pension (TRS) or their health insurance....fair?
Euro August 07, 2012 at 12:01 PM
now what?
StevenJ August 08, 2012 at 04:24 AM
As a resident of D218, we need to be aware of the whole picture. Looking at an article in the Souhtown entitled "Top-paid teachers: Blue-collar suburbs offer blue-chip pay" puts forth a message that does not even mention our home district. Maybe this says something of why there is a discussion about a new contract? Wouldn't we want to hire and retain highly qualified teachers, and not lose them? The idea, "what you put in is what you get out", I would think these ideas should have the community stand with the people who stand in front of our kids each day!


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