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Both sides dissatisfied in D300 talks

Updated: December 1, 2012 5:00PM

CARPENTERSVILLE — Community Unit School District 300 Board of Education member and spokesman Joe Stevens said “it’s fair to say” continuing negotiations between the district and its teachers union Monday night “did not go well.”

“There was not as much movement on the part of LEAD as we had expected there would be,” Stevens said.

And Mike Williamson, spokesman for LEAD (Local Educators Association of District 300) said the teachers union also felt like movement was slower than it should be.

“We don’t think they’re moving quickly enough,” Williamson said. “We are speaking with the IEA (Illinois Education Association) about what options we have.”

Negotiations between District 300 and its teachers union started nearly a year ago in November 2011; in earnest, in January. Since then, the two sides have filed for mediation, and union members recently voted to authorize their leadership to strike.

One of the major sticking points that emerged early on is the Carpentersville-based district’s large class sizes, although Superintendent Michael Bregy has said the school board’s most recent proposal to the union includes a reduction in class sizes, as well as well as a “modest” salary increase.

Williamson confirmed Tuesday the two sides have been “talking about class decreases at the elementary level.”

And, he said, they also had “a good talk” this week about the district’s move this school year to an eight-period schedule, including a slightly longer school day, at its three high schools. That’s caused some issues with some teachers teaching only five courses and an advisory period while others teach and must prepare lesson plans and grade assignments for six courses, he said.

But Williamson said, “I know we’re not in agreement between what they think is reasonable increase and what we think is a reasonable increase.”

Part of the modest salary increase the school board has proposed is “existing step and lane,” increases for more education and time spent in the district, he said.

And while Stevens said, “step increases certainly are an increase to base,” Williamson said that frustrates the union’s bargaining team. It worries the union that District 300’s salaries may not be competitive with surrounding district’s, the union spokesman said.

Meantime, data the school board spokesman said the district received from the Illinois State Board of Education ranks the Carpentersville-based district the fifth-highest paid in the state.

The two sides are discussing meeting again to negotiate early next week, Williamson said, although it feels like “every inch requires a mile of bargaining.”

But, he said, they can agree on one thing: “Nobody is willing to sit through another 10 months of negotiations.”

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