Update: Deal Good for Students, Jensen.

Union leader thinks special education provisions will benefit community.

(Update at 10:10 a.m.) Students, particularly those with special needs, are beneficiaries of the tentative agreement reached earlier today between the Deerfield Education Association (DEA) teachers’ union Deerfield Public Schools District 109, according to union President Dennis Jensen.

“This is good for the schools, the community and the students,” Jensen said. “This deal is the best we could do under the circumstances.”

Along with compensation and teacher evaluation, issues surrounding special education were one of the integral topics needing agreement between the parties. Though not normally part of a union contract, the DEA decided to make it one this time.

“The special education provisions we got will benefit the special education population in the schools,” Jensen said. “Is it everything we wanted, no? Is it more than the Board wanted to give in the beginning, sure?”

Jensen agrees with District 109 School Board member and District negotiating team representative Steve Schwartz the few remaining details to be worked out will not get in the way of a the deal.

According to Jensen, once the agreement is put in final form, a meeting will be held with the entire union membership to explain it and answer any questions. After the meeting, a vote will be taken at each school to ratify the contract. Sixty percent of the teachers must approve the deal for ratification. The Board must pass it as well.

“Once that’s done, I’ll sign it and (School Board President) Ellen London will sign it,” Jensen said.

(Earlier at 8:22 a.m.) A tentative contract agreement was reached just before 1 a.m. today averting a strike by the  against , according to District 109 School Board member Steve Schwartz.

Representatives of the District and the union began talking Thursday afternoon and negotiated into today’s early hours in their third session in less than two weeks with a federal mediator aimed at resolving the nine-month old dispute.

“We reached a tentative agreement subject to approval by the Board and ratification by the union,” Schwartz, one of the District negotiators, said. “There are a few minor details to be worked out. It was a good session.”

Word came from Schwartz in a phone call just before 1 a.m. Patch received a text message from union President Dennis Jensen indicating the two sides were still talking at 11:30 p.m. Thursday.

With major issues like compensation and teacher evaluations remaining unresolved at the beginning of the session, Schwartz felt everyone in the mediation made a strong effort to bring the ongoing contract discussions to an end.

“We rolled up our sleeves and got a lot done,” Schwartz told Patch this morning. “We still had a lot of open issues. It was a very collaborative evening.”

Schwartz does not see any of the remaining details barring final approval of the deal. He declined to give any details until the contract was put in writing.

Attorneys for the District are preparing final language which will then need approval by lawyers for the union. After that, union members must vote approval as well as the Board.

Patch will update this story through the day as it learns more from both groups. There will be a report at Monday’s Board meeting.

Harry Steindler April 13, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Thank you to the board and teachers' negotiating teams for their hard work these past many months. There are always different views of what is right in negotiations but I am sure that each group worked hard to agree on a contract that in the end is what's right for our community, our teachers and most importantly our students. I appreciate the amount of time, effort and blood, sweat and tears that must of been involved. Please know that your efforts are very much appreciated.
John Russillo April 13, 2012 at 04:00 PM
Good for the teachers holding out for the special ed provisions. I understand the board's reluctance including them and wanting a "clean" contract but the administration that THEY HIRED made it imperative that those provisions exist. Hopefully, within the next 2 years, there will be significant improvement in the relationship between the administration and parents and teachers. Or maybe, there will be new board members and a new administration. The people of Deerfield have more work to do. Pay attention to the upcoming election. Get up to speed on the issues. Why did this negotiation play out the way it did? Are there people better suited to the job than the current seven? I'll certainly be working to get answers to these questions and I hope you will too.
MSB April 13, 2012 at 05:00 PM
The most dangerous place in the Deerfield is between a parent and their child. Although I haven’t seen the details yet, thank you to the teachers and board members for reaching an agreement that recognizes the importance of providing an education to ALL students.
Anne April 13, 2012 at 05:37 PM
Very true, MSB, Very true.
Scott April 13, 2012 at 07:13 PM
"...a meeting will be held with the entire union membership to explain it and answer any questions." “Once that’s done, I’ll sign it and (School Board President) Ellen London will sign it,” Jensen said." What's wrong here is that everyone but the public gets to see the contract before its signed.
A concerned DHS Parent April 13, 2012 at 10:43 PM
It will be nice to see that the community will stop attacking itself!!!! It's said that Patch.com has become a site to attack each other. Now we can attack our selves about the sign instead about the food, service and noise rather than the ugly sign we see for 2 seconds as we pass it..
barry April 14, 2012 at 04:07 PM
MY VIEW....FOR WHAT ITS WORTH: A devicive, manipulative and sneaky administration is now smarter than before, having learned from the mistakes that enabled parents and teachers to "be on to their tactics". These same players won't change. But methods will. Big and desicisive changes across the board in administrative personal must be made by this board.....starting at Monday nights meeting. Or it will be more of the same for those grammar school parents....ALL OF THEM...that have kids with special needs or not that will attend middle school in the next 3 years. What we may need to look at is any LONG TERM PROJECTS in the pipeline being held up until there is a change in administration and ultimately the board. This may require legal actions such as injunctions or/ or other forms of temporary relief, but one thing will be abundantly clear should the board once again fail to take the correct path in Monday nights desicion regarding the vote to place Caruso's current principal into a position he has no business holding by any stretch of the imagination: this board simply will not or is incapable of making timely and appropriate desisions on behalf of our children and the taxpayers of our community.
John Russillo April 15, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Just saw the community packet for Monday's board meeting. Usually they include all FOIA requests. While they mention my FOIA, they do not include the request itself, so I will include it here for anyone who is interested in the data: Pursuant to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, I hereby request the following information: 1) Which district employees drive district-provided automobiles 2) All expenditures related to the lease and operation of said vehicles for calendar year 2011 3) Which administrators or employees currently are authorized to use P-Cards 4) Detailed description for all P-Card charges in the attached file. Please make sure the following information is included: - Please identify the cardholder for each of the purchases - For gasoline charges, please identify the vehicle for which the gas was purchased - For grocery or department store charges, the specific project for which the items were purchased - For airline tickets, the specific employees, flights, and reasons for travel - For restaurant purchases, the specific business reason for the meal - For purchases from office stores or teacher stores, the specific business reason for the purchase - The specific details of the 11/11/11 purchase from "Boston Beer" in Boston, MA
barry April 15, 2012 at 09:00 PM
John.....I am afraid you may be seeking info that only a federal supeoena will provide as the truthful answer at this time may prove the nail in the coffin for board members and administrators. Tomorrow's meeting will be very telling indeed.
John Russillo April 15, 2012 at 09:04 PM
I got everything I asked for.
barry April 15, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Great! Interesting?
John Russillo April 15, 2012 at 09:50 PM
Yes, I've detailed some of the spending in other threads. Interesting that they put a copy of every other FOIA request in the community packet but not mine. Why is that?
Curious Resident April 15, 2012 at 11:16 PM
Does anyone know why Dr. DeLuca is retiring? I have spoken to some teachers, and they usually an internal job posting is opened for all positions, and it was not opened for Director of Human Resources. I checked the website as well and found that to be true...isn't the board supposed to do a job search for these positions both in the district and outside of the district? Am I correct in understanding this will be the 4th or 5th principal at Caruso in less then 10 years?
Harry Steindler April 16, 2012 at 03:11 AM
Fourth principal at Caruso - Dr. Ristow, Andy, Dale and . . . Not knowing Dale Fisher's qualifications it's hard to say whether the district needed to look outside to fill the position. I don't know what District policies are regarding job searches. At least once before the district filled the HR position by moving a principal - Denise Nielsen-Hall.
John Russillo April 16, 2012 at 04:15 AM
The taxpayers are spending $15,000 per year to get him his PhD. He'd better be qualified at that price.
Curious Resident April 16, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Mr. Russillo, I would like to think that you are correct, however, I know as a taxpayer he is not very approachable. I mean let us seriously think about the administration that we have in place. I am thinking that this is a move to hide the dissatisfaction of his "leadership" skills. Once again it is to cover up the problems. Instead of moving the former principal at Walden they quietly and hushed hushed let him go. Rumor has it that the principal was a hire by Goier because his mother was or is her best friend. This was the principal before the current one, who was the asst. principal at Caruso took over. While there is an agreement in place, and we as the public still don't know what it is...as a taxpayer I still have little trust in the administration and the board in anything!
John Russillo April 16, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Well, that was mostly a sarcastic remark, but the larger question is how is this Board ensuring qualified people are being hired? The Superintendant's email said nothing about a job search for a new HR director. Is the Board OK with this? Just because you are a principal doesn't mean you are qualified to administer human resources for an entire district, including union employees. I certainly hope they are making the right decision here, but given the Board's propensity to rubber stamp the administration's decisions, I'm not so sure. These are the questions EVERY concerned village taxpayer should be asking leading up to the April election.
Nonny April 16, 2012 at 02:51 PM
SBH - enough already!! Dale Fisher has an incredible rapport and reputation with both parents and teachers. My understanding is that the only parents who complain about him are those whose kids get into some kind of trouble (and yes, I know of specific incidences). Stop spreading your rumors.
MSB April 16, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Precisely Nonny, Dale Fisher appears to be jovial to all until you actually NEED him to address an issue --then he gets conveniently stupid. He washes his hands of any issues – from bullying to IEPs. He has redirected parents who have had bullying issues to the district only to have the district claim that he is the resident expert. One year he claimed to know nothing about IEPs and refused to get involved --which left parents with little recourse, and then the next year he claims that he has sat in hundreds of IEPs. Probably a great guy – unless you need something done. From others who have posted on this site who have worked under him we have heard about his work habits and let’s just say it wasn’t positive. I have mixed feelings on this, getting him out of the front line may be good for the students; getting him out of the district may be best.
John Russillo April 16, 2012 at 09:14 PM
Ah...my FOIA has magically appeared in the community packet.
Mara Meyer April 16, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Can you say "Peter Principle?" This seems to be the history of this District.
Patrick dullis April 16, 2012 at 10:26 PM
The suggested replacement of DeLuca by an internal replacement? When was the last internal admin hire? Hmmmm.... The board should be suspicious of this. This district needs new blood in all administrative positions. Unless they are happy with the status quo of unhappy parents and employees. Seems like Illinois politics if you ask me. I wonder if Mrs. Goier thinks her recommendation is as golden as Blagojevich did his.
Eddie Jacobs April 17, 2012 at 02:29 AM
First and foremost, congratulations to both sides of the bargaining table for coming to what seems to be an equitable agreement for all involved, most importantly the students. A healthy and much needed open discussion of special education within the district and revisions to the evaluation process I believe were also part of the process. So, I ask why is there so much venemous discussion within these comments? There have been more accusatory, negative, conspiracy laden comments made over the last few months than I could ever remember. Trust works both ways. As voters, residents , and parents we need to trust the process and work within the system to make it work for the best of all of the students. Making inflamatory comments and accusations based on misinformation or at best one sided information does little help the situation. We should all be appreciative of the quality of the teaching and administrative staffs that we have and be thankful of the democratic precious that allows for the issues to be aired in public. Step back and smile!
John Russillo April 17, 2012 at 02:42 AM
Trust the process? That's what we've been doing for the last 5 years and it's led to a deterioration of instruction as well as the relationship with the teachers. If you do not know this, Eddie, then you have been out of the loop for too long. This is not misinformation. This is real. Talk to some of your old teacher contacts. Talk to some special ed parents you used to know. These issues will not go away just because the deal was signed. I'm surprised that you of all people are preaching blind faith in the process. This community needs to be better informed and make better decisions about our elected officials. This deterioration has happened on THEIR watch and THEY have to answer for it.
John Russillo April 17, 2012 at 02:50 AM
Once again, we sat in a board meeting where parents asked why they weren't invited to the special ed follow-up meetings and the answer came back the same as always: "I don't know what you're talking about. I'll look into it." It's the same thing as always, divide, divert, deceive. Parents have had enough. We won't step back and smile until every child is accounted for. We won't step back and smile until the Board is a legitimate OVERSIGHT committee and not a rubber stamp machine. We won't step back and smile until we feel there are people that listen to our concerns and take the appropriate corrective actions. Sorry, but we're not there yet. Not by a long shot.
Eddie Jacobs April 17, 2012 at 03:03 AM
John, technology such as this blog is both a blessing as well as a curse. I prefer not to carry on a dialogue about important issues such as these on a blog, but I am passionate AND informed about these issues. I am certainly not "out of the loop". I do speak to teachers, serve on several committees on both the 109 and 113 levels and passionately care about the teachers and the needs of our special education population. Most people who served on the board for 10 years and continue to volunteer when asked like myself would hesitate to respond to comments in the Patch. I'm certain that many wonder why I do. It's simple. I can not stand by and let good people repeatedly be verbally assaulted. Being an effective board member is a thankless task that takes you away from your family and friends for long periods of time. I encourage any and all of you to consider getting involved or perhaps run for a board position.
John Russillo April 17, 2012 at 03:08 AM
I'm sure they are all good people, but certainly you can allow for people to have opinions as to their effectiveness as board members. I would never attack them personally, but how they do their jobs is fair game to the taxpayers of this district.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »