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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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just sayin again July 29, 2012 at 04:11 AM
I agree with you on every point you mention. I just think each item needs to be addressed directly. This time it happens to be about the union and the board. I will be anticipating information about the other above mentioned actions taken by the board and the student performance. Our tax dollars are going to the same place and we have the right to know and have a say in what is done with them.
Concerned in Oak Lawn July 29, 2012 at 04:59 AM
Ladies and Gentlemen, Don't let this guy Bob fool you. His real name is Bob Shelstrom and he is a well know Republican and tea party activist. He use to work in public education years ago and he was never successful. After his inability to stay successfully employed in public education he moved on to private schools and met the same fate. He currently works for conservative think tanks and gets paid to run anti-public education propaganda in the media. He has also had several failed attempts running for office. We won't get fooled again.
Summer July 29, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Concerned . . . I could not care less if Bob is "a well known Republican and tea party activist." You have said nothing to refute his fact and figures regarding 218 spending. I have lived in Oak Lawn for over 35 years, and I'm sick of the district's runaway spending as evidenced on my tax bills. It is time for more transparency (open meetings), and more fiscal responsibility. The reality of today's economy cannot sustain the obscene salaries and benefits for both administrators and teachers. It is time for taxpayers to stand up and say "Enough!"
Bob July 29, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Concerned, this is all a lie. I'm not paid a nickle form any "conservative think tank", I was never in "public education" except as a part timeCollege instructor, and, when I had time, subsititute teacher. I took a sabbatical from to teach and I could have stayed teaching in quality private schools, but I was ready, after a very educational experience in teaching, to go back to engineering management. Unlike you, "concerned", who is pretty obviously a Dem hatchet man/woman. I don't rely on politics to make a living. Do this blog a service. Go and crawl back into the cesspool you came form.
Bob July 29, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Aarenlty your stint in education has brought your reading comprehension down to sub elementary level. I never said that was ALL they do, the subject was the more repetitive nature of high school teaching as compared to elementary. You infer things not stated, which makes you a typical "educator".
Bob July 29, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Frustrated, one of the biggest problems in public ed, IMHO, is replacing teaching talent with psychobabble and such as ponderous paper bureaucracy that the real service being provided, a teacher presenting, explaining and motivating students, has been lost in the shuffle. By most measures, US student performance peaked in the graduating classes of about 1970. There weren't IEPs then, nor any of the layers of bureaucracy sapping up resources form useful purpose. Salaries were realtively low, and those in teaching did it more for the love of it than for the money and early retirement packages. Now a 43year old teacher in the system makes more in noine months than and engieering manager does in 12 even in failing disrircts like 218. Ultimately, teacher evaluation has to come from administrators who actually take the time to sit in the class, does spot checks of the tests the teacher prepares and grades, and based upon quality surveys on the teacher completed by students. Competency IMPROVEMENT in students should also be considered. In order for teachers to advance in pay grade, they should need to prove they're worthy in this sort of evaluation, and the public shuold have an opportunity to comment on these promotions prior to it being approved. This would ensure that quality senior staff is adequately rewarded, and the dead wood is not allowed to unfairly plunder the stduents resources. Think yourunion would allow suchj a common sense, fair system?
Concerned July 30, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Below is an email from Bob that states he was in public education which seems to contradict his response above. Also, don't forget that Bob is a candidate for a state rep office from this district. From: Robert Shelstrom <bobshelstrom@...> Subject: Re: Running for the School Board To: darlenebartlett@... Date: Wednesday, December 17, 2008, 1:27 PM I can certainly sympathize with your situation. When I was teaching in public schools, I was appalled at how many students were stigmatized as "learning disabled" when the root cause of their problems was behavioral. Being locked into a "special ed" program mixing kids who have physiological learning disabilities with behavioral issues certainly has been counterproductive in my experience. I can understand why you're reluctant to run. You're right in assuming if you want to act in the best interest of the children, you'll be attacked, demeaned, and intimidated. I've gone into "battle" for Board elections four times now, and it's resulted in personal attacks, mostly behind my back, unfair treatment of my children regarding discipline, and denial of opportunities to my children. """Full email can be found- http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ForOurChildrensFuture/message/3265 Bob Shelstrom
Dave W. July 30, 2012 at 05:08 AM
Not only is it a bad idea in principle to quote a guy that is famous for never gatting caught with rampant cheating, but the quote itself goes against maritime logic...it is sometimes better to stay farther out to sea than to bring a boat in under such conditions as to do damage to the ship or the port. Common sense isn't an excuse, it is survival, sometimes. If we paid people based on if they should 'move on' for not doing there jobs, even just those paid with taxpayer money...we would have to defund Congress. Not only have they been stalemated for almost four year, but between the greedy-but-stupid Democrats and the greedy-but-traitorous Republicans, there might be five or ten out of 535 not on the take...though I might be optimistically high on that. Which post had a teacher giving an excuse, versus a reason? I agree that we should do more to find and promote the 'good' teachers, see why they succeed...but then we also have to do something about it. If the stated curriculum is flawed at a school or district, but the teachers must follow whose fault is it at that point? Lazy teachers are a problem, as in every other walk of life or industry. (Look how productivity is lost just on Patch comments alone!) There are some legitimate reasons for teachers to think they are being ignored or underpaid or overworked...there are also reasons why these kids should be doing better. Not sure how we get there, but compromise would be a good start.
sacrifice July 30, 2012 at 11:13 AM
As someone stated above If this board would show some leaadership we wouldn't be here. They are too blinded by doc and burt odelson.
Step Up July 30, 2012 at 01:47 PM
R.E. Former The secretive nature of that deal as I understand it was to avoid a federal lawsuit against the district. Why do you say Grahams charges were outlandish? I agree it's shady and Odelson brokering the deal in those high figures without any oversight is scary. From what I know, Graham was severely harrassed by former brd mbr Ronald Pratl. District phone records proved it and came out in some campaign literature by Pratls political opponent. until there is a change in guard or legal representation that settlement will remain confidential.
Bob July 30, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Concerned, if you were "concerned" about the truth, which you are not, you would have read that the only public education in which I was employed was as a college instructor and as a substitute teacher, where I saw in about a dozen districts how the problems affect the students. If you find that as a "negative" in a candidate for the General Assembly, well, it's likely you're just another dem political attack dog. I have no problem attaching my name to what I write, "Concerned". Do you have the honesty and character to do the same, or are you just a coward who attacks from the shadows? Take off your mask, Concerned, if you have any character or GUTS!
Been There July 30, 2012 at 05:28 PM
What are the qualifications to be a school board member? How many complainers vote for board members then hammer them in blogs like this. They are unpaid citizen representatives of their communities, empowered by the vote to make the decisions required to maintain their schools. Their main role is to oversee the finances of the district and in turn hire experts to assist them. Most complainers have never attended a board meeting. The financial constraints in these times trying to run a school district makes me appreciative of those who are willing to try and do their best. How many complainers reach out to help?
R.E. Former July 30, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Step Up, I appreciate your comment. There was more to Mr Graham's charges than just phone logs. He, in turn, called Mr Pratl several times too. He claimed stress and duress. He charged a fellow administrator with being a "ghost payroller". The mere suggestion of a lawsuit or possibility of federal charges should have moved the School Board confront the charges openly and report its findings to the taxpayers. The backroom nature of the settlement and the circumstances surrounding it are offensive to the community. The elected officials who voted for that settlement will also vote on the teachers contract. They are being advised by a small number of senior administrators. The same elected officials who voted for the settlement are up for reelection next spring. There is no real leadership among these elected officials, so their actions are guided by John Byrne and Burt Odelson. But these elected officials are ultimately responsible for everything done on behalf of D218, answerable to its taxpayers.
fyiOakLawn July 30, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Bob Shelstrom is like most republicans. They flip-flop all the time. Can't trust him.
R.E. Former July 30, 2012 at 10:52 PM
Been There, lets be clear. Most people who run for elected school board office do so because they really want to and they campaign hard to win. Once they are elected from their section of the district, they are obliged to dilgently represent ALL residents and see to the best interests of all students of D218. This Board has failed to assert itself since the last election. It failed to come to an agrrement on a replacement for Ron Pratl when he resigned last year, and taxpayers have been under represented since then. The teachers union recognizes this and is concerned that Board is being led along by a handfull of administrators because of the lack of cohesion and leadership among the elected officals. The people you refer to as "complainers" have a right to ask questions and hold elected offials accountable. The President and Board Members are obliged to respond. If you decide to comment again, please try to be pertinent to the discussion at hand.
Been There July 30, 2012 at 11:04 PM
R.E.Former I have no problem with these legitimate complaints when a school board is not doing its job. The fact is that more complaints are found in this blog than are addressed at board meetings. Check the turnouts. Hold the board's feet to the fire by turning out in numbers to address these issues. If consensus shows there is no confidence in the board, then demand resignations. I've seen it done before.
Southside Transplant July 31, 2012 at 03:45 AM
Bob -- one question why do you keep referring to engineers and engineering managers vs. being a teacher? Those are two totally different types of people. And if you think being a teacher is so "repetitive" call up a public school and feel free to write a lesson plan and see how "repetitive" it is after one kid comes in late, one tells you to go "f" yourself(and the parents say you made him and he is a good kid) and the 4-6 kids that don't speak or understand English ask you to repeat yourself every 5 minutes. Seems to me my friend you couldn't adapt to your students and you got left behind from the education profession and you are a bit upset about it all.
Bob July 31, 2012 at 04:49 AM
Southside, one of the reasons I conpare engineering and education is that I have done both successfully, and another is that HS teachers like to try to justify their excessive salaries by comparing themselves to COMPETITIVE professions such as engineering and medical professions such as nursing. they like to just throw the comparison out there, but when you sonsider what's demanded of the other professions compared to public education, education comes out poorly. FYI, for all my teaching assignments I was invited to return the following term. I gave three years with a paycut of about $60,000 per year to serve the education of young people (and some not so young people). What have YOU sacrificed to improve public education?
Bob July 31, 2012 at 04:52 AM
fyi oaklawn, i see you use the typical deceitful Dem tactic like "concerned", if you can't dispute the message, deman and insult the messenger. You got away with it in 2006 and 2008. We won't be fooled by your vacuous attacks again!
Step Up July 31, 2012 at 12:51 PM
Hi RE Former, The board has yet to show any leadership. The Graham settlement is an example of mismanagement & waste. If Graham wanted to sue the district they shouldve called his bluff. Now Grahams set for life laughing all the way to the bank. Odelson advised the board not to talk. They agreed blindly to confidentiality agreements.No one questioned anything. None of them 2nd guesses this or any advice. Local 134 pressure from Pratl to Graham to create jobs, use preferred vendors, micromanagemnt all play a role. I agree with you 100% on foul brokering & multi-yr contract maneuvering. As well as the lack of representation from the 7th seat left open by Mr. Pratl. That 7th candidate would've indeed questioned every move made by this board and administration but they stifled her. Without transparency the kids are the ultimate losers.
StevenJ July 31, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Another great questionable association and business practice by the SD 218 board and it's politics. A Former school board president and lawyer who left his seat after hiring the districts' current law firm has now ironically signed on as a partner in that same law firm. See article in Daily Southtown, "Odelson and Sterk expands business and office".
R.E. Former July 31, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Step Up, The circumstances surrounding the Graham settlement and The Board's inaction are exactly why the teachers' union must be very deliberate in negotiating the next contract. If it is perceived that the Board will simply rubber stamp the recommendation of a couple of administrators, They will understand that they are dealing with self serving individuals. There has been no leadership or active involvement from the Board to this point. There were several charges made during last years election, but nothing was ever proven. Phone records may show call histories, but they do not prove harrassment or intimidation. We will never know the truth because the School Board failed to investigate. The Graham settlement was based on several accusations, but once again, none were ever investigated or proven. TheBoard simply gave Graham a boatload of cash and tried to forget about it. Too bad, because the points you raise, (Local 134, jobs, prefferred vendors, micro managing) are part of the charges that Graham made, but we'll never know if any were true because the Board President failed to investigate and administrative leadership seems to have no problems with that. The Teachers' Union asked about the Graham settlement, but Asst. Supt. Ty Harting refused to discuss it with them.
Dave W. August 01, 2012 at 04:35 AM
Wow...that just seems...crazy.
SHH August 01, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Yes Steven J Another great questionable association and business practice by the SD 218 board and it's politics would be Stillmans law firm representing the Chgo Ridge park district. Look who sits on that park board. Look at the nearly million dollar settlement to Graham. Was someone more worried about presiding over a school board or keeping a lucrative contract for their firm?
frustrated teacher August 01, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Bob- Labeling something you don't understand as psychobabble is just silly. The point is that measuring a teacher's effectiveness in a objective and statistically valid way is very difficult - if not impossible. Prior to 1970, students with learning challenges typically dropped out of school to work in good paying manufacturing jobs. Those jobs are gone. Our culture has changed dramatically since 1970. Lower scores on standardized tests are a result of more students being tested and a culture that rewards immediate gratification and reinforces low frustration tolerance.
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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