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Union, 109 Move Closer to Deal

Both sides made compromises beyond the last and final offer presented to each other. Click on the links in the third paragraph from the bottom to read each side's final offer.

Hours after giving their last and final offer to a federal mediator Thursday, representatives of the and moved closer to an agreement at the negotiating table.

One thing that is certain is the final offers that will soon be released to the public have been modified by additional compromise, according to union President Dennis Jensen and District 109 School Board member Steve Schwartz. They are part of the negotiating teams.

The other thing that is certain is DEA and District representatives will meet one more time April 2 based on timing strictures of Illinois law.

Once the Union declared an impasse March 8, both sides were required to submit their last and final offer by 4 p.m. Thursday. The mediation session began shortly after that and more concessions were made by both teams.

For the first time, Schwartz revealed the District wants to reduce automatic increases in teacher compensation from the percentages in the expired contract while the union wants an increase in base pay.

Under the expired contract, teachers get automatic pay increases for years of experience and additional education.

“We want to change the schedule because it is not sustainable,” Schwartz said. “We are not suggesting a change for increased education. Some of the increases (in the expired contract) could be as high as six percent.”

Despite more progress on non financial issues than on compensation, Jensen stressed they are all important. He believes the teachers have earned a raise.

“We work very hard at what we do,” Jensen said. “The Board would like people to think it is about money. They have put away $5 million last year and this year there will be more.” Jensen thinks some of that money should be used for an increase in base pay.

Jensen stressed compensation was only one of the major issues remaining on the table. “This is about all the issues; special education, evaluations and benefits, not just money. Evaluations are very important,” he said.

Both sides came closer on special education and teacher evaluations. Special education, which has been one of the major issues, appears closer to resolution, particularly in the middle schools, according to Schwartz.

Jensen believes the sides will be closer if some of union's most recent suggestions are accepted by the District.

“We made compromises (in the latest counter proposal) on special education based on the improvements in the middle schools,” Jensen said of referring to an .

Schwartz agreed with Jensen’s assessment. “We’re very close on special education,” he said. “We have to review the proposal before us,” he added referring to the latest modification from the union.

The mediator must release the final offer of both sides by Thursday. Both the District and the union posted their final offers on their websites today. Here is the District's proposal and here is the union's offer.

With at least one more mediation session before a possible strike, Thursday’s movement has sparked some optimism. “I hope this is a good sign,” Jensen said.

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John Russillo March 17, 2012 at 01:31 PM
They posted the annual increases. If you divide them by the base it comes to 4% annual.
John Russillo March 17, 2012 at 01:33 PM
Sounds like you are getting ready for another run for the District 113 board. Good luck!
Jackie March 17, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Which administrators get cars? I keep hearing this but I cant seem to find who gets one. I assume Goeir but who else?
John Russillo March 17, 2012 at 02:41 PM
I think we need to separate fact from bluster. Technically speaking, the DEA is correct. Under the last contract (giving the teachers "unsustainable" raises) the educational fund has gone from $8M to $17M. Over the next 3 years of this new contract, the educational fund will add another $2M or so. The base salaries for teachers are about $20M, so a one percent increase is $200K. So, the question is not are they sustainable, because they clearly are. The question is SHOULD we continue to give 6% raises. That is what the debate is about. And that's fine. Right now they are negotiating in the 3-4% range and I think most people would agree that to be a reasonable range. So, again, separate fact from fiction and make your own decisions.
John Russillo March 17, 2012 at 02:47 PM
And David, being an active member of the education community you should know that the educational fund is for salaries and operating expenses ONLY. Maintenance and capital projects come from another fund. Those funds are also properly maintained and growing. So please don't pretend that raises for the teachers will impact maintenance and infrastructure. You should know the facts.
Charlie March 17, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Then hire more young teachers coming out of school and cease trying to upgrade outdated obsolete models.
Charlie March 17, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Why should anyone get a car?
Susan M March 17, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Charlie, I disagree wholeheartedly with your simplistic statement. It's vital for any organization to have a variety of ages, backgrounds, and voices working together. We need experience, knowledge, enthusiasm, and passion--especially in the individuals who work with our children!
concerned March 17, 2012 at 03:40 PM
So Charlie, you're saying that experience counts for nothing? Evaluations will sift through the not worthy.
concerned March 17, 2012 at 03:41 PM
exactly
Harry Steindler March 17, 2012 at 04:06 PM
The District 109 administrators have the same plan as the teachers - extremely lower cost to the employee. An administrative employee with family coverage pays between $400 and $500 per year of a $21,000+ premium. I'm an accountant - we have clients all over the place - some companies pay 50% to almost 100% of the cost, others require much heavier participation from their employees.
David Greenberg March 17, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Thank you for your comments John. I do understand how education funding works and that there are different funds for different purposes. Raises for teachers can impact maintenance and infrastructure because each fund contributes to the overall tax rate that's imposed by the District. That is capped, so if you want to increase one thing, you need to reduce another in order to stay within the cap.
David Greenberg March 17, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Nothing could be further from the truth, I hold good and excellent teachers in high regard. And yes, I do have children - two of them. I haven't forgotten that there are perks awarded in the business world to employees who meet or exceed their goals, primarily because they're helping the company to meet or exceed theirs. Public schools are different - they take our tax dollars and spend them. They do not make a profit, they educate our children. However, businesses consider granting perks as a way to attract and retain employees - primarily when there's a shortage of employees they are looking to hire. Reviewing the ISBE report on teachers in the "pipeline" - there's over 60,000 certified teachers available. Certainly out of that 60,000 there are some qualified candidates that can do the job at least as well, if not better, than the incumbents - and they could do it for less money, with less or no perks. I'm not saying "don't give a teacher a raise" - I'm saying "consider them for a raise IF their performance is such that they deserve a raise." Taking courses to better their knowledge is certainly a bonus, but it shouldn't and doesn't warrant an automatic raise. Again, if their performance is such that they deserve a raise after taking the courses, give them a raise.
David Greenberg March 17, 2012 at 06:07 PM
No school administrator should get a vehicle provided to them. The IRS allows deductions for unreimbursed business expenses, and for mileage. Anyone making $100K or over likely has an accountant who is, or should be, well-versed in those deductions. Let those administrators keep track of their mileage on their vehicle, and deduct it at the end of the year.
David Greenberg March 17, 2012 at 06:10 PM
As the employee's salary goes up, the amount of benefits funded by the taxpayers should go down. When the employee reaches say $90K or $100K, they should fully fund their own retirement and at least 90% of their health-care.
John Russillo March 17, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Where does that model exist? Could you give some examples of districts that follow that model?
John Russillo March 17, 2012 at 06:21 PM
So how would you assess the 109 budgets? How will the raise package the DEA is asking for affect the maintenance and capital funds?
David Greenberg March 18, 2012 at 01:10 AM
Unfortunately, I don't know of any at this time that use such a model. That doesn't mean that it isn't valid, or shouldn't be considered. When teachers were first given pensions, it was because they gave up earning power by teaching. That is, they made LESS than they could have out in the "real world". Flash forward to the present - many teachers, make salaries that exceed that of the average "real world" worker. Since the social compact was that we funded pensions due to lessened earning power, it's only fair to reduce the amount we fund as their earnings go up. Then if an employee wants to continue funding their pension, they can do so. If they choose to invest in another vehicle (or indeed, nothing at all), that's their business.
David Greenberg March 18, 2012 at 01:15 AM
John, I honestly haven't looked at the D109 budgets. I don't live in Deerfield. I live in Highland Park - and we have our own set of concerns with our elementary district.
John Russillo March 18, 2012 at 01:27 AM
A wonderful discussion for another time, perhaps a BOE election. Let's stick to the district 109 specifics.
Frank G. Karkazis March 18, 2012 at 02:59 AM
Good point David, I agree. Why are we paying for the principal of Caruso to get a continuing education, or any other 109 employee for that matter? When is enough enough? Goier loves spending the Deerfield taxpayers' money. I think its safe to say they aren't asking for a raise so that they can pay their own tuition, God forbid. The taxpayers should be the ones voting on this.
M. R. March 18, 2012 at 03:15 AM
Look at 3d column on here to find position such as admin. These are last year's salaries from district website: http://www.dps109.org/humanresources/Contracts%20and%20Agreements/PUblic%20Act%2096-0434%20listing%20all%20Staff%20Salary%20and%20Benefit%20Report%202010.11.pdf
John Russillo March 18, 2012 at 04:21 PM
And I agree that the traditional step and lane system is probably outdated. I think once the state mandated evaluation system is developed, that will go a long way to linking performance with pay. However, the board's proposal is still the traditional lane/step model, so while it's nice to think about what will be, we are stuck in the now thinking about what will get this particular deal done.
Pamela Kramer March 18, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Also, the rationale for not wanting to give decent raises is based on faulty logic. On the website, the board gives the "average" teacher salary comparisons for several districts and use that to say that 109 teachers are 3rd highest in salary. All that means is that 109 has more experienced teachers who make more money than in other districts. District 112 is down on the list simply because they have many newer teachers who make less money. Not because their salary is so much lower. Come on school board -- don't assume that readers are stupid! Give some real figures to try to support your views. But what is obvious is that most of the parents support the teachers and know how hard they work.
M. R. March 18, 2012 at 11:19 PM
Dr. Goier gets the car according to the list on the district website but if you go through the bills for January that are in the board packet (also online) there were 23 gas station charges last month. Many look like same person, same station, once a week or so. Charges range from gas stations in Buffalo Grove, Lake Geneva, Libertyville, Evanston and someone who apparently lives in Lombard. There's got to be at least 4 or 5 administrators with the district paying their gas bill for their car for so many charges. Why are we paying for gas for their cars? Also notice 7 charges for restaurants in Deerfield over the month. Who are the taxpayers paying to feed? Do our administrators also have expense accounts to take someone out to lunch or dinner? What else do they get that the taxpayers don't know about?
MSB March 19, 2012 at 12:50 AM
With the frequency of the gas fill-ups, it seems like we are paying for the families of the administrators as well (maybe even board members??). From the internet, Supt. Goier appears to live in Highland Park which is not that far away from Deerfield if I recall. If the board would rein in some of these monthly credit card expenses, $20K + a month, to such things as restaurants and Peapod, it would pay for a 1% raise for the teachers in less than 10 months. Let's have our taxpayer money be used to educate our children, not spent on the administration. To put it in the board's words, this is unsustainable!!!
Frank G. Karkazis March 19, 2012 at 02:17 AM
I believe the principal of Caruso lives in Lombard. I'd love to know who filled their gas tank in Lake Geneva.
Harry Steindler March 19, 2012 at 04:50 AM
Some of the concerns I have regarding the board proposal section 17.2 Joint Advisory Committee for Special Education: The board proposes six board representatives (including administrators), six association members and up to two parents. Under this proposal it is possible that we could have a committee with no one representing the community ( no board members, no parents). I suggest there be a requirement that at least two of the board representatives must be board members and not administrators. I would suggest that the association representatives must include one or two special services providers such as speech therapists or social workers. The DEA proposal differs from the board proposal by stating that at least two parents must be included on the Committee. That's much better than the board's "up to two" which could mean one or zero. However, I believe there should be at least four parents on the committee. In order to have a real opportunity for parent representation we need more than 2 out of 14 members. Also, 2 parents could not possibly represent the broad spectrum of families with special needs children. We have children with mild LD, children with PDD, children from one end of the autism spectrum to the other, children with ADHD, children with cerebral palsy. Parents should get fair representation. I believe this committee must exist for the entire contract, not the limited period that is defined in the proposal. I have other concerns, but this is a start.
MSB March 19, 2012 at 08:45 AM
When the scandal broke in Chicago about the abuse of city credit cards for restaurants, etc., the issue was addressed immediately... In the corporate world, employees are reimbursed for gas mileage when the business requires them to drive to a function above and beyond their normal daily commute to and from work. This reimbursed mileage rate is generally based on a corporate rate which reflects the rate determined by the IRS (currently at 55.5 cents a mile). Therefore an employee only submits for mileage reimbursement when they exceed the distance of their daily commute. What the H is going on here? Time and time again this board is being made fools of for not knowing what is going on in their district. We heard that Supt. Goier is not traveling to the individual schools! The board provides an open check book and credit card for the administration to hire and spend as they wish and then wants to penny pinch the people in direct contact with our children. This does not make any sense at all. Get your act together NOW!
David Greenberg March 19, 2012 at 04:12 PM
I've dealt with the mileage reimbursement issue extensively in the corporate world. Employees may be reimbursed entirely for mileage at the current IRS rate, entirely for mileage at some rate less than the current IRS, or not at all. In the second case, the employee can deduct the unreimbursed difference between the current IRS rate and what was paid. And in the third case, the employee can deduct the unreimbursed amount at the current IRS rate. Regardless of how it's done, documentation of the expense needs to be kept to substantiate the payment, to the IRS, and ultimately to the taxpayers. Starting and ending mileage, the date, and the BUSINESS purpose of the trip needs to be recorded. Those records are then available for review by the administration - to monitor and control costs and employee action, and are also available for review by the Public so they can oversee the administration's monitoring. If those records aren't being kept or demanded by the administration, then one has to wonder why.

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