Mediator Requested in District 300 Teacher Union Negotiations

A joint statement from District 300 and its teacher union:

Board and LEAD300 jointly request mediator in negotiations

The negotiating teams for the D300 School Board and the D300 teachers’ union, known as LEAD300, have requested a third‐party mediator to assist in their ongoing negotiations.

The School Board and LEAD300 filed the mediation request in keeping with a new state law that was passed last year, called Senate Bill 7.

This law requires that if the parties have not agreed on a new contract in a certain time period prior to the start of the upcoming school year, the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB) will initiate mediation.

The involvement of a mediator does not mean that the Board and LEAD300 are at an impasse, but rather it reflects compliance with the new law as well as the desire to bring negotiations to a timely conclusion.

The mediator is a neutral, third party, who is appointed by the IELRB to assist the parties in coming to an agreement. There is no cost to the school district for using a mediator.

In spring 2011, the D300 School Board and LEAD300 agreed to a one‐year collective bargaining agreement for D300 teachers and other certified staff, which expired on July 1, 2012 (The terms of this contract will automatically roll forward until/unless both parties agree to a new contract.)

The School Board initiated an invitation to LEAD300 in January 2012 to begin negotiations for a new agreement. That month, the first negotiations session took place for what the School Board hopes will result in a multi‐year contract to give stability to students, teachers, and district taxpayers.

However, in the sessions that have taken place since then, LEAD300 has not presented to the School Board any specific proposal as to the salary schedule and benefits that LEAD300 would like for its members. The School Board has been unable to develop or present a counterproposal because no dollar amounts or percentages have been proposed by LEAD300.

LEAD300 presented, among other concepts, a proposal to substantially lower class sizes.

The School Board very much shares this desire to lower class sizes.

But without knowing specifically how much LEAD300 is seeking in terms of salaries and benefits, the School Board
cannot determine to what extent the district could afford to do so, if at all.

The bigger picture of these negotiations must also be considered by all parties.

D300 inevitably faces increased costs in the near future due to state pension reforms, which will push more pension costs onto school districts.

As early as next year, D300 will likely have to pay at least $1 million to $3 million more a year in increased pension contributions. Furthermore, the district will not see the financial benefits of the renegotiated Sears EDA for another three years.

Even then, at roughly $3.2 million a year, the increased EDA funding will only begin to partially offset the state funding cuts that D300 has recently suffered in transportation and other areas.

The School Board had hoped to be further along in the negotiations process by now, especially in light of the good faith measures it has taken.

Administration had decided this spring not to recommend any budget‐related layoffs of teachers or other certified staff for the upcoming 2012‐2013 school year, despite the additional financial pressure this would place on the district’s already tight budget. The Board supported this recommendation against layoffs as a good faith measure to pave the way for collaboration during negotiations.

The D300 School Board remains deeply committed to working with LEAD300 and optimistically aspires to find a resolution which allows the district to focus on students.

Student achievement and fiscal responsibility are the mutual job of every Board member, educator, and staff member in the district.

Together, all parties must be mutually committed to living within the district’s limited financial means in order to ensure that students have the resources that they need to thrive.

The Board and LEAD300 believe that using a mediator can positively support this goal and allow them to come to a timely agreement.

D300 student attendance begins on Monday, August 13, for the 2012‐2013 school year.

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