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Union, 109 Discuss Special Education

Board representatives make written proposals on teacher evaluations, special education at mediation session.

A proposal to create a new committee to deal with special education issues was part of a written offer made by the negotiating team to the at their mediation session Jan. 31.

The District had already announced it would give the union its ideas about teacher evaluation when the two sides met, but the ideas for special education were a surprise.

The new committee would have two teachers and a pair of administrators with the possible addition of parents to report to the District 109 School Board, according to Board member and negotiator .

“They would meet about special education issues as they come up and report directly to the Board,” Schwartz said. “We took it in (public and teacher comment) and decided we needed a new approach. We weren’t getting anywhere.”

, who was encouraged by the ideas on teacher evaluation when they were announced, was less enthusiastic about what he and his colleagues heard about special education.

“These proposals will require us to make significant counter proposals in order to continue to address the priorities we have identified in these two areas,” Jensen said. “We had hoped to make more progress. We are continuing to work with the Board toward a timely resolution of the issues.”

Schwartz expects the union to propose an alternative to the Board’s two written suggestions. “It will probably come at our next session,” he said. The next round with the federal mediator is Feb. 8.

The Board suggested the current method of evaluating teacher performance would remain in place for two years and all parties would work together on a new plan for the 2013-14 school year.

The new plan will be developed by a statutorily mandated evaluation committee composed of an equal number of Board and union representatives, according to a statement posted on the District 109 website Monday.

The new plan will be developed by a statutorily mandated evaluation committee composed of an equal number of Board and union representatives, according to the statement on the District 109 website.

The teachers have been working on an expired contract since August. The two sides have been negotiating with the assistance of a federal mediator since October. A new contract will be retroactive to the date the old pact expired, according to Jensen.

To better keep up with all the news on District 109 please like Patch on our Facebook page.

John Russillo February 04, 2012 at 12:54 AM
I don't think I'd use the term stagnation. I think the term I'd use for the administration is arrogance. I think the current Board means well, but has been sold a bill of goods by admin and is trying to dig its way out, but it's too little too late. We need some Board members who understand education and "won't get fooled again."
Katie Bittner February 04, 2012 at 02:07 AM
John I agree with you 100%. The administrators are not only arrogant but cross a line of morality in the way they have not provided services for children . And yes we need a Board who actually cares to find out what is going on in the schools and the more stories I hear the worse it becomes , School districts can present themselves and say everything they do for children, unfortunately with 109 it is all lip service and no actual follow through on providing services for kids who have disabilities or kids that they refuse to identify . It is very sad.
Mara Meyer February 04, 2012 at 03:46 AM
Dealing what has happened in the past won't get us forward. The present is in need of a change at the top and subsequent followers. A clean sweep would work and perhaps the only solution. Hopefully, the contract will be settled and then on with the task of changing and preventing such issues from occurring again!
Katie Bittner February 04, 2012 at 04:35 AM
It is important for the Board to know what has happened in the past to many families and in moving forward in the future actually putting in place best practices that empower parents. They need to truly be part of a team that plans for what is best for their children.
Mara Meyer February 04, 2012 at 05:18 AM
Katie, that clean sweep reference was also for the Board. Can you trust the people that hired the administrators?
Katie Bittner February 04, 2012 at 05:23 AM
No you can not!
Mara Meyer February 04, 2012 at 05:44 AM
:)
RB February 04, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Since 113 seems to be run so much better than 109, why not combine districts? Cut out the additional overhead of having two districts in a small town like Deerfield.
Katie Bittner February 04, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Great idea !!!
David Greenberg February 05, 2012 at 01:04 AM
113 overlaps more than just 109 in Deerfield. Combining would require all involved to consent.
John Russillo February 06, 2012 at 07:11 PM
Yet another mis-step by administration in rolling out their pricey consultants and facility plan before the negotiations are complete. Arrogance. Do they think we really want to know how much they are planning on spending for facility "upgrades" when they can't even pay the teachers?? Pure arrogance. At least show the teachers you give a damn and hold off until you have a new contract.
Katie Bittner February 06, 2012 at 07:52 PM
John- they have showed us that they are not responsive to any of our concerns. We will move forward with educating all of the parents in this district exactly what is going on and what they taxes are being used on.
Lisa Polisner February 06, 2012 at 09:33 PM
John, it is so funny that you put into words exactly what I was thinking when I read her message. I wonder if the pro air-aircondition parents are annoyed by this too!
John Russillo February 06, 2012 at 09:38 PM
Deerfield's got money for a new library but sorry...no money for the teachers! It's just ludicrous.
David Greenberg February 07, 2012 at 04:13 AM
The library and the school are two different taxing bodies.
David Greenberg February 07, 2012 at 04:16 AM
I'm not taking sides, but are the 'upgrades' needs or wants? If you're upgrading the roof because it's leaking, that's one thing. What I'm trying to say is you need a place for teachers to teach, but there needs to be balance. There's only so much money to go around.
John Russillo February 07, 2012 at 04:19 AM
Well of course they are. We have tons of money to have the best of everything in the Village of Deerfield, but not enough money to run a school system. Because they're different taxing bodies.
John Russillo February 07, 2012 at 04:20 AM
Well if you don't have teachers, then the buildings don't do you much good, now do they. Yes, balance and priorities. Completely agree.
John Russillo February 07, 2012 at 05:10 AM
And I seriously doubt they would hire Fanning Howey to slap on a couple roofs.
David Greenberg February 07, 2012 at 08:39 AM
It depends on the educational model you're using. If it's the traditional one - where people go to buildings to be taught, then yes - you need both. If it's a distance learning model - then you don't need dedicated buildings for students to attend class, and the role of a 'teacher' varies depending upon the course. In this case, you have a traditional model. You need buildings, and you need teachers. How much of each and the costs are the question. As for the Fanning Howey firm - there's a lot of architectural firms out there. Can they do a good job? Probably. But that's not the question - the questions w/respect to facilities are "What's the overall plan? WHY does something need to be done? WHAT is it to achieve? HOW will it affect the educational outcomes of the students in a positive manner and by how much? What's the curriculum plan that ties in with the facilities desired? What teachers do we need to fulfill that curriculum plan? What's all this going to cost? Can we afford it? Will it raise taxes? If so, by how much? Do we have the money on-hand, or do we borrow it? How long does it take to pay off? have What impact on the community does higher taxes have? What other options are there? Can we do it all now, or in stages? Over how long?" But ultimately, if the community doesn't agree with what the Board is doing and the Board goes in a different direction, then the community needs to have other candidates run for the Board, and elect them.
Harry Steindler February 08, 2012 at 02:18 AM
David - focus on Dist 113! Let us Deerfielders figure out our Dist 109 issues - but, as always, thanks for your input!
David Greenberg February 08, 2012 at 04:39 AM
109 is all yours Harry :-) Just trying to provide a different perspective to consider in the hopes that it will help.
Wendy Apple February 08, 2012 at 05:10 AM
As co-founder of Parents Responsibly Organizing for Air Conditioning (PRO-AC), I urge you to consider that while it may seem callous to do facilities planning in the absence of a new teacher contract, AC should be considered an exception. You may know that many kids and teachers in the unairconditioned district 109 schools have been getting sick when the weather heats up. In fact, air quality at school decreases with hot indoor temperatures because the heat and sunlight essentially cook the air along with all the chemical compounds lingering within it. These chemicals include volatile organic compounds (e.g., formaldehyde) and biological pollutants (e.g., mold). The EPA asserts that AC is the #1 protective factor against heat-related illness, which is particularly important since hot weather is likely to increase in intensity, frequency and duration as the climate changes. Air conditioning also is cost-effective given recent advances in technology - the district will share specifics soon. Our schools are equipped with heating systems that can be altered to include cooling coils. Additionally, many of the current heating/fresh air systems in our schools will need to be replaced soon because of age. Standard electricity upgrades in each school would be made to handle the increased load on the system. In other words, we don't need to reinvent the wheel but just modernize our current systems to dramatically improve our district's learning environments.
John Russillo February 08, 2012 at 01:09 PM
I didn't say it was callous to do facilities planning. I said it was the wrong time to have a community forum. Maintaining and upgrading school facilities is important, but giving the teachers a fair contract is the first priority.
Katie Bittner February 08, 2012 at 02:02 PM
John-your point is well made, the timing of scheduling this meeting is not appropriate. With the teacher contract negotiations looming and the possibility of a strike, it is not appropriate to be discussing building improvements . 109 should resolve the issues at hand and give the teachers the respect and attention they deserve.
Wendy Apple February 08, 2012 at 06:53 PM
I respect and do not disagree with your comments. But since these meetings are going to go on regardless, note that many teachers put air conditioning at the top of their wish lists. To put them in harm's way with bad air quality is dangerous and disrespectful.
Nonny February 17, 2012 at 04:20 PM
The business of the district should not stop because of contract negotiations. It is not only appropriate to discuss building matters, it is imperative. The board would be remiss to allow other aspects of its legal duties to lag just because of the negotiations.
John Russillo February 17, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Yes, well after attending the meeting, I withdraw my comment. The Board has no plan as of yet. The meeting was just to talk about the study. Did you attend?
RonnieTheLimoDriver February 17, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Well, what I think was so interesting after reading the article in the Review is just how worthless the study was. The study found the administration building was in good shape. No surprise there, the district just spent a ton of money upgrading it without getting any community input. They report numerous storage rooms (Kipling, South Park, Walden, Wilmot, etc) dont get enough ventilation. Sorry but ventilation in storage rooms is not exactly a priority for me. Here's is the really scary part. In numerous cases they report building systems were "probably replaced" during additions or construction work. Does the district or the firm doing the study not know this for a fact? Or did they not take the time to actually examine the systems? Im not sure I put a lot of weight into a report that does not even state the last time a system was replaced. Examples "Walden Elementary School ...probably replaced when a 1996 addition was added", "Wilmot Elementary School... Assuming all the mechanical and plumbing equipment was replaced in 1996 or 2011 with the construction of the last two additions," "Shepard Our expectation is that the majority of the building’s indoor academic unit ventilators were updated in the late 1980s," etc.
John Russillo February 17, 2012 at 08:02 PM
The study is not yet complete. I think some of those things will eventually get addressed.

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