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Public Hears 109 Board Stand on Talks

Board explains positions for first time. Union president clarifies union’s issues.

Public frustration erupted over the lack of public information provided about ongoing contract negotiations between and the at Monday’s school board meeting. 

Teachers have been since before the school year began and started informational picketing in November. Both sides have been working through a federal mediator. The next session is Thursday followed by two more on Jan. 31 and Feb. 8. 

The seeds for Monday’s emotional meeting attended by more than 400 people were planted earlier this week when Deerfield parent Susan Peterman sent an email expressing fears of a strike. “It’s not out of the question,” she said. “At some point they may reach an impasse.” 

indicated no movement toward a strike will be made before the Feb. 8 meeting. “Nothing is going to happen before those dates,” he said. 

The board responded by making its first public comments about the negotiations at Monday’s meeting. read a prepared statement and board member Steven Schwartz, part of the negotiating team, explained some of the board’s position in the negotiations for the first time. 

Statements Are Not Enough For Some 

The board’s first public statements about the negotiations were not enough for some in the crowd. “Let us hear from the other side,” one person said. “There must be someone here who can speak (for the teachers).” London would not allow it. 

Eric Hogberg, a Deerfield parent, made it clear he was not happy with either the board or the union. “I’m frustrated by the lack of information on both sides,” Hogberg said. “I’m being asked by both sides to express a position I know nothing about.” 

With both the board’s comments and conversations with Jensen after the meeting, the positions of the two sides began to emerge. Schwartz talked about compensation including both salaries and benefits, special education and teacher evaluations. 

Evaluations may prove to be the biggest sticking point. Teachers are currently graded on an old system which the board claims needs upgrading including the use of technology, according to Schwartz. 

“If we want to change it it must be bargained,” Schwartz said. “A final evaluation instrument is being dealt with in the negotiation process. The procedure stays,” he added referring to procedural rights teachers currently possess. 

When pressed by parents, Schwartz admitted the goal was to give the administration the final say over evaluations. Jensen made it clear that is not acceptable to the union. 

Union Firm on Evaluation Issue 

“We are very firm on it being kept,” Jensen said about maintaining teacher evaluations as a bargained right. 

Schwartz made it clear the board’s negotiating team had strong feelings as well. “So are we,” he said responding to Jenson’s statement. 

London emphasized she wants to see a fair contract for all sides. Schwartz talked about compensation and health care benefits. There appears more flexibility there but the board has its limits. 

“We will not dip into reserves and we will not ask the taxpayers for more money (through a referendum),” Schwartz said. “Greater than CPI (consumer price index) we can’t do without dipping into reserves.” He also wants to make some alterations to the health care package to offset annual “double digit” cost increases. 

Jensen said he has not been privy to the board’s finances to evaluate Schwartz’s position. Those records are public, according to District 109 Communications Director Cathy Kedjidian. He clearly sees room to move on the health care package. 

Many of the parents who spoke were concerned about . The removal of resource rooms giving special needs students a period in the day for closer attention aroused great passion. “I came last month and I’ll keep coming every month until you restore the resource rooms,” one parent said. 

Originally Schwartz said special education issues were not part of the negotiations. “It is not a contract issue,” he said. “It’s not in the contract now. Special education should not be part of it (the contract).”

Jensen said the resource rooms were part of the negotiations which was confirmed after the meeting by board member Nick Begley. Jensen said negotiating working conditions for teachers will also have an effect on special education services. “It will trickle down,” he said.

London told the crowd the board’s Committee of the Whole meeting Jan. 23 would include a presentation on special education. She also said there would be three parent meetings.

anonymous January 10, 2012 at 07:09 PM
You know I think people need to think twice about the whole teacher evaluation process. This is definitely an important issue in my book and one that I would have to side with the board. I, for one, hope they don't back down for even a minute! We may have some darn good teachers in this district, but the absolute fact of the matter is, that we also have some teachers that really need to go. Some completely lack the ability to enjoy their job or our children and convey their attitudes through total disrespect and uncaring attitudes. I mean, come on, some of you have to know what I'm talking about here. The problem is, they are protected under their contract and the administration would have to jump through quite a few hoops to even attempt to get rid of them. The thousands upon thousands of dollars in legal fees and such would come out of our schools and therefore rob our children even further. In the end, the union would find any number of loop holes to win the case for keeping these teachers employed and teacher evaluations are just one of those loop holes. Why would be afraid of a tougher teacher evaluation process? It could really only help, not hurt our children's education. The teachers who are already doing a great job would have nothing to fear, but those who need to improve or go would finally be able to be dealt with. By the way, I would completely support a stiff evaluation process for administrators as well.
Mark Stein January 10, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Here are some facts: 1. This negotiation is about more than money. Special education, evaluation and other issues are still on the table. While the Association can't negotiate specifically to continue "resource rooms," it can and is negotiating to create avenues for teachers to advocate for children and to protect them from retaliation when they do. 2.The District is trying to eliminate protections against arbitrary and even malicious evaluation. This is a real issue. Teachers have been negatively evaluated for the most trivial of reasons, which have resulted in grievances. For example, a teacher was written up for asking a child whether he enjoyed summer camp. 3. Teachers are paid from the District Education Fund. Over the past two years, this fund has increased by over $5,000,000. There isn't the slightest chance that giving teachers a fair raise would cause a tax increase. 4. Teachers made concessions and agreed to pay more for insurance before the referendum was passed. The District promised that administrators would share in this burden. The District has totally reneged on this promise. Mark Stein UniServ Director Illinois Education Association
anonymous January 10, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Don't worry Mark. No matter how negative an evaluation or grievance may be, no teacher would ever be terminated even if the district, or the parents for that matter, wanted to get rid of one or two or...... Wouldn't eveyone enjoy such job security in their jobs? Teacher tenure is a powerful thing isn't it? Even if a teacher is rated as "unsatisfactory" on a teacher evaluation, the current process gives them all the chances they need to redeem themself. Besides, they only have to "perform" for an evaluation every two years, right? Listen, I see a definite need for change here with teacher evaluations, but I can certainly understand your position here. I mean you are an IEA representative and your job is to protect teachers at all costs including the cost to our children. Fortunately, Deerfield has many, many excellent teachers, but those few bad apples can spoil the bunch.
Curious Resident January 10, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Anonymous, You are quite wrong in your statements. As I have stated before if administration does not like you, then it does not make a difference on the evaluation process as they make stuff up and blame for everything and provide false statements. Sure there are teachers that maybe should not be teaching but there are teachers who parents love and administration does not, which makes their job harder. Get your facts straight before you write this. There might be a few teachers within the district that you personally don't like but be aware if they can do it to one they can do it to many!
Mark Stein January 10, 2012 at 09:56 PM
You are simply wrong.
robyn whiteman January 10, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Fellow DPS 109 Parents: A sincere thank you to everyone who attended yesterday’s DPS 109 Board Meeting. Having so many parents and community members present demonstrated (to the Board and Administration) that we support our teachers, and want an equitable and timely resolution to the contract negotiations. Your presence, speeches and e-mails also highlighted the need for open communication, and the desire for the Board to heed the voices of its constituency. For those that are asking for an open forum where the DEA (“teachers’ union”) can express their viewpoints, respond to comments made by the Board, and answer questions, an event to provide this opportunity will be scheduled in the near future; hopefully sometime next week. We will send a blast with the specific information when it is available. You can also check the teachers’ union website at www.deerfield109teachers.wordpress.com for the posting of the date, time and location of this forum. Thank you again for your interest and support. Neil Goldberg Jenny Kaplan Sari Montgomery Susan Peterman Lisa Polisner Robyn Whiteman
AK January 11, 2012 at 12:30 AM
"A concerned DHS Parent"---I assume your comment is meant to be hurtful towards the named 109 teacher. Perhaps it would be understood better had you proofread or used correct English grammar. Your nastiness in a public forum is juvenile and cowardly.
Eddie Jacobs January 11, 2012 at 02:58 AM
Onced again I'm extremely distressed about the state of negotiations and the public's perception of the process. Yes, there are significant issues that need to be negotiated, bargained, and discussed in a rational non-judgmental fashion. The negotiations for the most part are carried on by non-professionals who volunteer their time in the best interests of the teachers, staff, community, and most importantly our children. Its not a perfect process and never will be. Negotiating in public is never a good practice and almost always results in a he said she said situation. Our teachers are very well represented by Dennis Jensen, their IEA Rep, Mark Stein and the school reps. The board members on the team are extremely hard working and give of their professional and personal time to come to an equitable contract. NO issue is impossible to resolve! There ARE financial and other significant issues that need to be addresed. Please be respectful of each other and try to be accurate with financial and other characterizations. There generally is no ulterior motive in this process other than doing what's best for the students, Don't forget the best contracts are the one's where neither party is completely satisfied!
Curious Resident January 11, 2012 at 03:29 AM
Mr. Stein, I certainly hope you are not saying I am wrong....
Mark Stein January 11, 2012 at 03:34 AM
No, I was saying that anonymous is wrong. A number of teachers have been forced out of District 109. I can not go into specifics.
A January 11, 2012 at 03:56 AM
Thank you Mr. Jacobs. From the sentiments I am hearing you have hit the nail on the head. The board doesn't seem to answer to anyone, even the taxpayers of Deerfield and parents of these students as apparent by their speaking at the meeting. Where is the money Mr. Stein stated going to? Why are the current administrators showing 8-10% increases in salary the last few years on thechampion.net (compounding while the teachers offer is 1.25% if I remember what I heard correctly), getting doctorates paid for fully, and full benefits such as medical and dental with no contributions at all? Why are the teachers and support staff getting more work (due to cuts and not hiring new hires for retirements which directly impacts students), while the admin staff increase by 4 people over the last few years and get less work? People really need to question why the board is not being fiscally responsible when it comes to administration. It seems like administration is being consolidated, and benefits for them are getting reduced everywhere, just not obviously in Deerfield. Fire those 4 people, put 10 aides in the schools, and sign the contract already. This is bad for the township and is truly disheartening as we get more bad publiciity. You are hear to serve our community, not uphold your own interests. All I can say is parents please run for school board in 2013, the community and your children need you.
Susan M January 11, 2012 at 04:45 AM
I have several concerns about our Board: 1. They are reps of the community, yet after being at the last few Board mtgs, it's obvious they do not represent our community. If they did, negotiations would be moving forward in response to our community's outcry about the numerous issues on the table. 2. A Board of Ed should reflect numerous viewpoints. However, when asked at the meeting in Dec. who had children in the district, 3 of the 7 individuals raised their hands. If you're going to be part of a Board of Ed, you have to have a vested interest in the children and their well-being. It greatly concerns me that the majority of the Board does not have children in the district any longer.
Susan M January 11, 2012 at 04:45 AM
Continued.. 3. Lastly, and most importantly, it's important to note their behavior in the last few meetings. The Nov meeting, which was one of the first where attendance was up, was crammed in the meeting room in the district office. When we arrived, the Board immediately went into closed session, making parents, community members, and teachers wait for 40 min. Last night, we were crammed in the library at Shepard. To add, we begged for teachers to share their point of view, and they were told they couldn't. The lack of respect to all who attended was a disgrace to our community. I hope that this contract is settled in a fair manner for our teachers. Once resolved, I hope our community begins to examine those running our district and whether or not they serve the best interests of our children.
Eddie Jacobs January 11, 2012 at 05:09 AM
Thank you. In the spirit of full disclosure, until two years ago I served as a school board member for Dist. 109 for ten years. I also served on the negotiating team for all of those ten years. I have been away from this for two years but, I'm concerned about the "facts" being tossed around. First, a well educated administrative team can only benefit the district as a whole. Also, all of our teachers are afforded similar continuing education opportunities I can attest to the fact that the compensation figures are in line with comparable school districts. I would be very suprised that the administrators are not paying any of the cost of their benefits. As to the well deserving, hard working teachers that produce extremely high achieving students, you have to look at the TOTAL compensation proposed including salary and all benefits, step and lane movements as compared to the same at comparable school districts.We should have teachers that are compensated at or near the top of similar districts during normal economic times. Dist. 109 is the envy of many school districts for many reasons one of which is a relatively low cost per pupil while achieving superior academic performance. Yes, our teachers have much to do with that, but, you can't ignore parental involvement and extremely effective administrative leadership. Do we need more aides or a better formula for addressing special ed and gifted education needs? That should be left to the teachers and administartors to determne.
Harry Steindler January 11, 2012 at 05:23 AM
Ed – there is obviously something wrong with the delivery of special education services in district 109. The meeting on the 23rd will be informative (hopefully) but it is not designed to understand teacher and educator concerns – the same thing with the three additional meetings scheduled. The board needs to take off their blinders and talk to the people really damaged by inadequate services – the teachers and parents, as representatives of our children.
Harry Steindler January 11, 2012 at 05:23 AM
Ed, I certainly respect the incredible dedication and hard work of the board members. As relates to special education I cannot respect the fact that the board seems unwilling to investigate the claims of so many by actually going to the teachers and parents of children with special needs to understand their concerns. I understand that the board hires professionals who are supposed to take care of our children and guide our educators. Sometimes, though that isn't enough. Sometimes the board needs to find out what's happening in the trenches. This is one of those times; just as it was 10 years ago. In both cases I believe the board has put too much credence in the claims of administrators to the detriment of students with special needs and therefore the detriment of our community as a whole. Sometimes a board needs to look past its usual charge, the board must talk honestly with its administrators and tell them they cannot with good conscience ignore the concerns of parents and professional, caring educators. The board needs to first of all pay attention to the strategic planning results from lasts year. More importantly, the board needs to allow parents and teachers to address the board privately, without interference from the administration
Concerned Parent January 11, 2012 at 05:36 AM
I urge everyone to go to the district website and view the financials for the past 5 years. The board has been increasing funding for TAP, one year as much as 25% while whittling away at the special education budget. I believe a student who isn't being challenged is no different than a student who can't keep up; they both are not reaching their potential. The board must provide each student the 'differentiated learning' they have set as their mandate, not just to the gifted segment. What the board has basically done is turn general education teachers into special education teachers, except that the teachers have not had the education or training to perform the job nor are they provided the tools and resources to assist them. This is what I see as the teacher's concerns and why special education IS part of the contract negotiations.
Harry Steindler January 11, 2012 at 05:45 AM
Again -discussing special education - numerous educators - whom you and I both know well, tell me the administration has become non-supportive of bringing the best possible services to children with special needs. I have been told of administrators looking to find any way possible to cut students out of the system. I have heard of unfulfilled IEPs. I have heard of absurd record keeping to force larger case loads on individual teachers. The board has to listen to the teachers and parents to understand these concerns. The objectives of educators and administrators are not always the same Ed - I believe that is the crux of the issue as it relates to special education services. The board cannot abdicate this responsibility to the administration. It is not working! The board needs to seek out and listen to these important stakeholders!
Mara Meyer January 11, 2012 at 02:38 PM
The Administrators!
Mara Meyer January 11, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Concerned - You really do not have to have children currently in attendance to be an active, respectful, considerate, and knowledgable School Board member. You do, however, have to have a clear understanding of education. I say this not to micromanage the District's educational program, but to oversee what is occurring. Obviously, the Central Administrators are and have been a problem for quite some time. Orchestrating a doctoral cohort is so dangerous and will acutally weaken the profession. I am appalled that we, as taxpayers, are footing this bill!
Mara Meyer January 11, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Why would this Board not arrange for Caruso, where parking and room is better suited?
RW January 11, 2012 at 03:01 PM
That is simply not true. The Board members get no financial gain. They are volunteers parents from our community.
Mara Meyer January 11, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Well said Andi! The problem with all this is the Administration is blind to what is truly needed for the students in the District. I question the Admin's ability to see the forest through the trees. Perpetuation of misinformation and wrong judgment is what is ailing this District. It is time for a change. Unfortunately, we must do this at the ballot box. Until this year, there really was no one at the helm to guide and advocate for Special Education staff. I wonder how much advocating the current Director is permitted!
Jenny Segal January 11, 2012 at 04:18 PM
RW, I apologize, what I meant was 6 administrators, not board members are getting their doctorates paid for. But they are more than volunteers, they are elected officials.
MSB January 12, 2012 at 02:00 PM
I admit it. I did not do my homework and did not put too much thought into casting my vote for the current school board members. I thought they were on the same page as the community. I did not realize that they had a Scott Walker-like agenda to vilify the teachers and create a divisive community all at the expense of educating of our children. As the constituents and communities of WI are saying to Walker, we did not ask for this. We pay the higher taxes to live in this community and in turn expect the best education for our children. So what is the problem? Why is there a problem? The teachers have spoken and now the parents have spoken. There IS a problem with the amount of resources D109 puts towards its special education services and this has a trickle down effect into the regular classrooms where all students lose. The recourse these parents have is filing grievances against the district for services not provided, which in the end, will cost us all more money.
Mara Meyer January 12, 2012 at 02:34 PM
This problem with providing services also is coupled with the judgments these indivduals make supposedly on behalf of the community. Truth be told, this Administration and Board is egregiously making decisions in areas.
A January 13, 2012 at 03:53 AM
And seriously why were there 4 new administrative staff hired in the past few years when support and special education has been reduced and minutes are not being met in accordance with the law? These 4 hires, and increased amount of spending are not apparent in the budget (under sections school or general administration) because they pushed it into business and instructional staff. They actually do not do anything instructional from what I have heard. Isn't this hiding the truth and very deceiving? The district functioned without these 4 positions wonderfully for years. Is this their idea of fiscal responsibility......hiring staff to make administrative workload lighter while our students and staff struggle in this situation?
Harry Steindler January 13, 2012 at 03:59 AM
What are these four new positions?
A January 13, 2012 at 04:10 AM
Communication, 21st Century Skills, Benefits, and Student services over the past few years
Lisa Polisner February 07, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Though I am responding to your post from January 10th, you should know that a teacher at Caruso just "resigned" last Friday. He was one of the weaker teachers and had been for many years. He was definitely a teacher that needed to be replaced. I don't know the full details of why he resigned, however, I do believe it was not by his own choosing. I think this should show that a teacher, whether tenured or not, does need to perform to certain standards and is not impenetrable.

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