After about 150 teachers rallied outside of District 112's office last week to protest the district's proposed contract for its teachers, many Patch readers have begun taking sides as a potential strike continues to loom.
Earlier: District 112 Teachers Take First Step Towards Strike
The District 112 teachers' union declared an impasse in its contract negotiations with the school board weeks ago, a decision that could lead to a teachers' strike by the middle of October. Even with the assistance of a federal mediator, the talks have not gone far.
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Throughout the rally and during the board meeting, teachers expressed their frustration with a contract includes salary freezes and cuts to their health care packages.
In school board presentations and online, the school board has indicated its finances can't sustain the raises the teachers would like to get.
"If we continue the course," said Mohsin Dada, the district’s chief financial officer, "we will lose very valuable employees, our services will be impacted."
One reader isn't so sure he believes that.
"Take what any district says with a grain of salt," writes John Russillo. "Look at the budgets and make your own judgments."
Forest Barbieri, on the other hand, thinks the district should be careful with how much they spend on teachers going forward.
"A policy that just gives and gives is a policy that will run out of money and force layoffs," writes Forest Barbieri. "Therefore, teachers gains for the many may cause painful losses for all."
Another reader agrees, commenting that homeowners in Highland Park simply can't afford the financial burden that comes with awarding raises to the district's teachers.
"It is my understanding that the homeowners essentially pay for the teachers salaries and people just don't have the money these days," writes Alexa Raye.
Many others, however, would like to see the district find a way to meet the teachers' demands. One reader, Walter Hainsfurther, is involved in the community's facilities development plan for Highland Park High School.
"We want the best and brightest teaching our kids," writes Hainsfurther. "We need to pay them a competitive wage similar to private sector."
Wendy Posnock agrees. She thinks the teachers deserve a contract that meets their demands, and to offer any less will demoralize an otherwise dedicated group of Highland Park employees.
"I for one would rather provide the teachers a solid contract, have them excited and dedicated to staying in this district and show them the respect they deserve," writes Posnock.