Dist. 300 reveals details of contract proposal to teachers
By Emily McFarlan Miller firstname.lastname@example.org November 7, 2012 2:48PM
Updated: December 9, 2012 7:35PM
CARPENTERSVILLE — Community Unit School District 300 had offered to lower class sizes at elementary schools by up to six students as part of its contract proposal to teachers.
It also had offered to increase teacher salaries about 2.75 percent this school year, retroactive to August, as well as about 2 percent and 2.5 percent in each of the next two years, respectively.
That’s according to parts of the school board’s last contract proposal to its teachers union District 300 made public Wednesday on its website.
“We believe we were making good progress to address the union’s top priorities including class size and working conditions,” board spokesperson Joe Stevens said Wednesday in a written statement.
“Now that the union has declared impasse, we are waiting to receive their final proposal to resume future negotiations.”
Local Educators Association of District 300 had declared an impasse in its negotiations with the Carpentersville-based school district Monday night after nearly a year of negotiations.
That action starts a 28-day countdown to a possible teachers strike in District 300. And that countdown starts with seven days for both sides to submit their last, best offers — including a cost summary — to each other, their mediator and the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, according to Illinois Senate Bill 7.
The labor board then has seven days to post those offers online, where they must be available for the public for at least two weeks before teachers can walk out.
What they offered
After sending its most recent contract proposal to LEAD at about 11 a.m. Wednesday, District 300 went ahead and posted parts of the offer that afternoon on its website, d300.org.
Those reductions in class sizes would reduce kindergarten classrooms from a maximum 32 students to a maximum 28, according to the website. They also include a reduction in grades one and two from a maximum 34 to a maximum 28, and in grades three to five, from 36 to 31.
The school board also has agreed to move to a nine-period day at its three high schools, according to the website. That comes from concerns that teachers have raised about its move to an eight-period day this school year.
The nine-period day would not change the start and end times of the school day. For teachers, it would include five periods of classroom assignments (with the exception of music and PE teachers), one period of supervision, one period of duty-free lunch and two periods of plan preparation.
And the proposal includes a phase-out of pay bumps that teachers receive in the years before their retirement.
That means this school year, teachers would get a 6 percent bump in their last four years in the district, as usual. Next year and the year after, teachers would get a 3 percent bump before that end-of-career salary increase would disappear in the 2015-16 school year, according to the website.
The union responds
LEAD spokesperson Mike Williamson said Wednesday afternoon that union leaders had not yet closely read what the district had posted and were not sure if or how it differed from what had been presented to them during negotiations.
But, Williamson said, elementary schools’ class size decreases do not address class sizes at middle and high schools. And those salary increases include step increases, which he said are about 2 percent and “already is a foregone conclusion that already was there.”
The district and its teachers union had planned to meet Wednesday night before the impasse had been declared. But after the district’s attorney reviewed Senate Bill 7, Stevens said, “nothing” would happen that night.
Williamson said the union’s bargaining team still planned to meet with or without the school board, and drew a line between what he called a “classic impasse” and “what probably should be called a ‘paper impasse,’ ” meant just to start the timeline toward a strike while negotiations continue.
“The board is dedicated to negotiating a contract that is good for students, fair for teachers and fiscally responsible to our community,” school board President Anne Miller said in a written statement.
“It is our sincere hope that a strike will be averted. We are fortunate to have a caring, competent and highly qualified staff.”
Williamson said the he “absolutely” agrees with that.
“That said, we absolutely at this point had to start that timeline in order to make that strike a possibility because they were not moving,” he said.
For a synopsis of the school board’s contract proposal, visit d300.org.