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District 300 Responds to Impasse, Submits Final Offers to LEAD 300

LEAD 300 has until Monday to submit its final offers to the district, the mediator and the

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Reducing pension benefit contributions, lowering grade school class sizes and continuing salary raises was all a part of a final offer from District 300 to its teachers' union Wednesday morning. 

Contract negotiations had been ongoing between LEAD 300, the teacher's union, and district administrators and the school board since the union approved a strike vote on Oct. 14. In total, 97 percent of the union approved the strike. 

These negotiations came to a halt Monday when LEAD 300 declared an impasse,

While LEAD 300 spokesman Michael Williamson told Patch in an e-mail Tuesday evening he thought the parties would meet this evening to continue the negotiations, the district released its final offers Wednesday and said it had no intentions of discussing the matter further at this time.

"We believe we were making good progress to address the union's top priorities including class size and working conditions," said school board member Joe Stevens in a District 300 press release. "Now that the union has declared impasse, we are waiting to receive their final proposal to resume future negotiations." 

District 300 took the impasse declaration to mean the teacher's union was not budging from its current bargaining position and "believes that the parties have exhausted the prospects of reaching an agreement," according to the news release.    

"The Board of Education and District 300 administration are disappointed that LEAD 300 has reached this conclusion; we believe the parties were making significant progress in the effort to reduce class size and improve teachers' working environment," according to the news release. 

A bargaining session had been planned for this evening. Williamson said Tuesday evening he hoped the session would continue. 

"We hope that tomorrow they will be willing to make the kind of movement they know they need to make in order to get this contract resolved," Williamson said.

Under state law, LEAD 300 must now submit its final offer to the Board of Education, the mediator and Illinois Education Labor Relations Board by Monday, Nov. 12. 

The main components of the proposal sent by the school board to LEAD 300 Wednesday morning included salary, insurance, retirement, extra pay, elementary class size, high school schedule, teacher load, issues related to education services (special education), teacher plan time, teacher arrival and departure time and other issues related to working conditions, according to a press release. 

"The Board is dedicated to negotiating a contract that is good for students, fair for teachers and fiscally responsible to our community," said Anne Miller, school board president, in the press release. "It is our sincere hope that a strike will be averted.  We are fortunate to have a caring, competent and highly qualified staff."  

In announcing the impasse declaration Monday, Michael Williamson, spokesman for LEAD 300, said the union still hoped talks would continue with the district.

“Nothing has changed about our commitment to negotiate a fair and equitable agreement,” Williamson said. “But we need the Board of Education to come to the table with fairness in mind so we can complete the process soon. They don’t seem to share our sense of urgency about this contract. We feel that time is running out.”

At least 28 days must pass after Monday's impasse declaration for a strike to occur, under state law. Williamson said the teacher's union does not want to strike but is prepared to if negotiations are not moving forward. 

“No one wants a strike,” he said. “But we are prepared for any contingency in the event that negotiations stall as they have in the recent past. The administration should not underestimate the resolve of LEAD’s members.”

The District's Proposal

Class size, learning environment and compensation have been some of the main sticking points in the ongoing negotiations. 

As part of the district's final offer, here is how class size would change: The maximum limit in kindergarten classrooms would change from the current cap of 32 students to a cap of 28 students.

For second and first grades that cap would decrease from the current max of 34 students to 28 students. And for third through fifth grade classrooms, the maximum would change from a 36-student maximum to a 31-student cap. 

In its proposal, proposed salary increases were in the form of step increase, which is "a salary increase based on the length of time a teacher has been employed in the district," for each year of their contract according to the news release.

The proposal also included a percentage increase to base pay in the first and third years of the contract.

School Year

Proposed Salary Increase

Notes

2012 to 2013

2.75 percent

Includes an average step increase of approximately 2 percent

2013 to 2014

2 percent

Includes an average step increase of approximately 2 percent

2014 to 2015

2.5 percent

Includes an average step increase of approximately 2 percent

 
Teachers with a masters or doctorate degree would receive increases of 2.75 percent in their first year, 2 percent in their second year and 2.5 percent in their third year. 

"Given today’s economic environment, the board has offered a strong salary and benefit package to its employees with the knowledge that the fiscal strength of the district is in the best interests of its students, its employees and its taxpayers," according to the news release. 

Another main factor in the proposal is a move by the district to phase out pension contributions. The move comes in light of proposed state legislation, which would shift required contributions to the local school districts. 

"Therefore, the Board has proposed that the current retirement plan's end-of-career salary increases be phased out during the three years of this agreement and that the post-retirement benefit be reduced,"  according to the news release. "This allows teachers at or near retirement age to have one final opportunity to take advantage of end of career salary increases."

The pension proposal is as follows:  

School Year

Proposed change to end-of-career salary increases

2012-2013

6 percent increase over their prior year's base salary for four years

2013-2014

3 percent increase over their prior year's base salary for four years

2014-2015

3 percent increase over their prior year's base salary for four years

To see more details from District 300's proposal, visit here. 

What's Next in Strike Proccess? 

Twenty-eight days must pass after an impasse for a strike to occur. Here are the next steps all paries must follow under state law. 

By Monday, November 12, 2012: Final offers - including a cost summary - must be exchanged to both parties involved (LEAD 300 and District 300), the mediator, and the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board. 

By Monday, November 19, 2012: If a settlement has not been reached, final offers must be made public. The IELRB will post final offers, including the cost summaries, on its website.

Monday, December 3, 2012: The first day teachers could engage in a strike. 

Check back with Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Patch for more updates and/or sign up for daily newsletter for updates

Anthony P. November 08, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Well said!

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