A large number of Deerfield parents told the and the to resolve their contract dispute quickly at Monday’s Board meeting.
The parents’ reaction in front of more than 600 people at Shepard Middle School came in the aftermath of a by the union and a response Sunday by the .
“I wish you could go somewhere, stay seated and come to a decision for the benefit of the community,” Dana Poncher said. “It’s time to take a deep breath and calm down.” She may get her wish Friday when the parties meet for their next mediation session.
After the last negotiating session Thursday, the teachers authorized their leadership to declare an impasse and call a strike if the team felt it was the best way to resolve the outstanding issues. Immediately afterward, Union President Dennis Jensen sought to move up the next meeting currently set Feb. 21.
Both Sides Move up Next Mediation Session
“We have asked our Illinois Education Association representative to see if they (the mediator and the District 109 negotiating team) have time next week,” Jensen told Patch Saturday. “The Board has accepted our offer to move it up to Friday,” he added speaking to the group Monday.
Jensen was the initial person from the public to address the crowd. It was the first time he has been allowed to speak during a Board meeting. Parents have been dominating those meetings with their own input since November.
An overwhelming plea from the parents was a desire to know more about the positions of both the Board and the DEA. Robyn Whiteman is willing to risk a strike because it will trigger a release of the two sides’ last and final offer.
“I don’t want a strike but if we have an impasse we can move forward so we can see what everyone wants,” Whiteman said. “I’m fed up. I’m not sure why this is a problem on both sides.”
Whiteman was referring to the Illinois law governing teacher work stoppages. Should one side declare an impasse, both parties have seven days to submit their final offer and the mediator must make them public within another week, according to Jensen. Then there is a 14-day cooling off period before a strike can begin.
Barry Sabransky echoed Whiteman’s frustration at a lack of information coming from both the union and the Board.
Too Much Polarization
“We live in a world that is way too polarized,” Sabransky said. “We should be coming together for our kids. This is a team effort (of) parents, teachers, students, administration and the Board. We must find out what made this happen and make sure it never happens again.”
Michael Falk, a parent who spoke for the first time at a Board meeting, had his own ideas to move the parties closer to a settlement. He suggested the teacher’s concede some of their potential pay hike to gain resources they want for special education.
“If they want the special ed, maybe the teachers should pay for it,” Falk said. “Maybe they should make a little less to get a little more for special ed. “You have to come to common ground. You have to talk about how to open it up.”
Lisa Schurgin wants to know how the District is spending its money particularly in the face of a past tax increase
“A number of years ago we all voted to raise our taxes,” Schurgin said. “We didn’t do it to build up an exorbitant amount of money in bank reserves. We wanted it go to resources. It should be here to help those who need help.”
A contract longer than three years would satisfy Scott Kluge. “In two years we’re going to have to go through this again,” he said. “I’m 50 percent for the teachers, 50 percent for the Board and 100 percent for the kids.”