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Readers React to Strained District 112 Negotiations

As the teachers' union for Highland Park elementary schools continues to disagree with the school board over its proposed contract, readers are chiming in with their opinions.

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.

The District's latest offer is available here, and the teachers' union's final offer can be found here.

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Mark Stein October 06, 2012 at 10:53 PM
Perhaps you're not aware that the North Chicago union has struck in the past.
Joe Wallace October 07, 2012 at 12:57 AM
Jerry, You sound like another spoiled 112 teacher who might be jealous that I am happy with my job. I am happy to stay where I am until I retire. BTW~even if I don't apply for one of those HP jobs, there'll still be plenty of applicants. And don't worry, I have the skills! Mark : I am aware of that fact but I don't see where your point is relevant. Both of you need to pick a fight with somebody else.
Jerry Hopkins October 07, 2012 at 03:11 AM
Joe, "spoiled teachers"? Ha! Not in the field, but have plenty of admiration for all that you do. Now relax and be happy with your NCHS job. It's not as bad as you make it sound. Give it a few more years. Things will get better. If not, New Orleans has some openings :)
David Greenberg October 07, 2012 at 05:37 AM
HS: Thank you for the insight - it is quite helpful. I also greatly appreciate the fact that you are publicly willing to state that you take pride in your job and are willing to work hard to prove you are a quality hire. Forest: I agree, Administrators need to be evaluated on performance of the school as a whole as well. Again, fair, achievable, and some reasonable percentage of the salary - just like I've pitched for teachers. And I agree with your compensation model in the last paragraph too...
Highlands HP'er October 13, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Joe wallace - I cannot find a "joe wallace" who teaches at north chicago. There is a "william wallace". between 2009 and 2010 he received a 7.5% pay increase. I should note... his salary is $46,000 per year with just 4 years of experience (in 2010). I should note.. a teacher in nssd112 would have to get a partial masters and work at least 5 years to receive that same pay.

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