Huntley School District Board of Education issued the following press release just before 4 PM on Wednesday:
Re: Union Negotiations Update
Consolidated School District 158’s Board of Education participated in three negotiation sessions with the HEA’s representatives during the previous two weeks, with another session scheduled for Sunday, September 14.
The Board continues to be flexible and willing to negotiate several aspects of the contract with the HEA team to best meet the needs of its members within the financial parameters that the Board has consistently discussed. However, at this time the Board remains stymied by the HEA Team’s apparent lack of understanding about the District’s true financial position.
The following is a summary of the sessions that recently took place.
•The HEA team advised the Board of issues and concerns they had with the Board’s Last, Best & Final Offer. The Board attempted to address those issues and concerns.
•The Board repeatedly requested that the HEA team prioritize and discuss these issues in order for the Board to consider making modifications to its offer to suit the prioritized needs of the HEA.
•The Board offered examples of potential modifications. However, the HEA team made it clear that if the Board didn’t provide significantly more money than the $1.6 million total package increase for the first year of the contract, there was no reason to discuss any potential modifications.
•The Board informed the HEA team that the HEA’s last formal counter proposal included at least $4.25 million more in cumulative increased spending over the three years than the Board’s Last, Best & Final Offer. Although the Board attempted to elicit detailed responses, the HEA team offered little in the way of support or justification for why the HEA team’s offer remains so far apart (over 80% higher) from the Board’s.
•The main issue expressed by the HEA team was the belief the District has built excessive positive Fund Balances during the past few years, justifying use of those Funds to further compensate teachers, despite considerable evidence to the contrary. The Board addressed this objection in great detail, and created a table that includes information from the Illinois State Board of Education’s District Financial Profile page.
The table (click to enlarge) reports that D158 is in the bottom third of McHenry County school districts when comparing the percentage of Operating Fund Balances to the previous year’s amount of Operating Expenses. Also, it was noted that over half of the districts have Operating Fund Balances that exceed 50% of their operating expenses, while D158 has less than 25% of unrestricted Operating Fund Balances. The table is currently posted on the D158 website.
•The Board pointed out that prior to the two-year contract that expired in June; the HEA membership received 7.5% (base & step) salary increases for four consecutive years. During several of those years the District was operating at a significant deficit, which ultimately created negative Operating Fund Balances by the end of fiscal-year 2004. The District was borrowing large amounts of tax anticipation warrants and incurred large interest expenses as a result. The District ended up approving a referendum to eliminate the deficits and to increase Operating Fund Balances. The Board has stated to the HEA team that the District is not interested in going down this path again.
•Additionally, the Board expressed concern with the HEA team’s understanding of the District’s financial position and the Operating Fund Balances at the end of fiscal year 2007. Specifically, the Board pointed out that $2.6 million of Fund Balances were a result of bond proceeds received prior to year-end for the purchase of buses and copiers. These items were actually purchased at the start of fiscal year 2008 and were disclosed as designated (restricted use) Fund Balances in the respective funds they were to be disbursed from. The HEA team was working under the assumption that the District had a larger operating surplus during fiscal year 2007 and ending Operating Fund Balances than really were available to start the year.
•The HEA indicated another issue is comparability to other school districts’ salary schedules. The Board explained to the HEA team those districts have significantly more revenue resources per student than D158, and thus have the ability to pay higher salaries and other forms of compensation. Charts showing revenue comparisons per student are available on the District’s website. The HEA team did not offer a detailed plan or response as to how the Board can be expected to provide salaries that are equal or greater than neighboring districts that have more revenue available per student, without increasing class sizes, or making significant reductions in other areas.
•The Board pointed out the Last, Best, and Final offer does exceed neighboring unit districts D200 (Woodstock) and D300 (Carpentersville) in some areas of the salary schedule offered, in spite of the fact that those districts have more revenue per student than D158. The comparison to D200 is available on the D158 website. (www.district158.org)
•The D200 comparison example illustrates precisely how the current salary schedule format (3.5% steps) has created a large disparity in starting salaries and the first several years of experience lines. Because of the large steps, this difference is greatly reduced until the schedule actually exceeds the D200 schedule after several years of teaching experience. The HEA team has yet to address a solution for narrowing this large comparability issue at the start of the salary schedule.
•The HEA requested the Board tentatively agree to certain sections in the proposal that both teams have deemed resolved in previous discussions. The Board is reviewing those items for consistency from past document versions, and for any issues that may pertain to length of the contract.
•The Board requested the HEA negotiate salary increases from the status quo of the recently expired contract, while the current contract is pending. The HEA team declined to bargain the issue.
The Board and the administration of the District are sincerely appreciative of the enthusiasm, dedication, and professionalism displayed by the staff during the start of the school year in spite of this matter not being resolved yet.