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Union, 109 to Tackle Evaluations Next

Agreement reached on three points. Teachers explain position to 125 people at meeting.

Agreement on three issues and a decision to tackle what may be the toughest point next was announced Tuesday in the contract negotiations between and the (DEA) teachers’ union.

The two sides met with a federal mediator Jan. 12 and reached agreement on the issues of vacancies, transfers and assignments, leaves and employee rights, according to a release by the district.

confirmed the news at a meeting Tuesday night at where union representatives gave their report on the issues surrounding the negotiations to more than 125 people.

Three major issues which remain unresolved are the compensation package, special education and teacher evaluations. Jensen said evaluations would be the focus of the next mediation Jan. 31. Another session is scheduled Feb. 8.

, both Jensen and board member Steven Schwartz appeared unwilling to budge on evaluations.

Evaluations Remain Major Issue

Teacher evaluations are being fiercely negotiated because they have long been part of the collective bargaining agreement and the administration would like to have the final word on the method of evaluating teachers, according to statements made by Schwartz Jan. 9.

“The evaluation document has been part of the agreement since 1992 and the board wants to remove the evaluation document from the agreement,” Jensen said. “We are open to negotiating it, even changing it but we want to know what we are going to be evaluated on and how we are going to be evaluated.”

Many of the people at Tuesday’s meeting, some of who spoke at as well, want to know how special education services are being handled during the mediation sessions.

Originally Board President Ellen London and Superintendent Renee Goier said special education was not part of the discussion. Schwartz finally said it was Jan. 9. Jensen has been saying the negotiation of working conditions for special education teachers will filter to aid the students.

“We can negotiate working conditions for the teachers including special education,” Jensen said. “If we can do that it will trickle down to benefit the students. At this moment it is why we are making it an issue.”

Resource Centers Are on the Table

At the last two board meetings and Tuesday night, a number of parents want to know why have been removed from the schedule at and .

The services once provided in the special periods are now done during regular classes. Jensen explained why that is detrimental to special needs students in his classes at Caruso.

“If a student is not learning the material he is pulled out of class for 15 minutes to learn it,” Jensen said. “He then misses what I’m teaching during those 15 minutes. It builds.”

While teachers cannot specifically negotiate the return of the resource centers, they can bargain for special education teachers to spend a prescribed number of minutes in a scheduled resource period, according to Adriane Reisman, a teacher and member of the negotiating team.

Schwartz agrees special education is now part of the process and looks forward to a resolution. “We are hopeful that there will be additional progress at the next session and confident that we will have eventual resolution on all of the special education issues,” he said in the release. 

Schwartz also said compensation has not been part of the process for two months. “The Board last offered a reasonable salary package to the DEA in November,” he said in the release. “The union has not yet responded to the offer.” 

Jensen agreed pay and benefits have not been part of the equation since November. He thinks it will be the last thing bargained. 

“In my experience salary and benefits are the last thing negotiated,” Jensen said. “We want to concentrate on special education and evaluations first. Other things we discuss can impact the board’s resources and we would then have to renegotiate.”

A January 19, 2012 at 03:07 AM
@ Private Sector- Are you sure you are not a Board Cronie? You seem to be more uninformed than anyone could imagine if you actually participated in the last few meetings that I have been at. Remember what happens in 109 ultimately effects what happens at the high school. 1. They haven't asked for more money. 2. They do ask for more help because all of the duties of the former employees/aides that have been cut in special services or haven't hired to refill once they have left has shifted to the teachers themselves. They are doing the work of 2 people right now. 3. The board did propose the change to 0 degrees so they could send out staff and students at pretty much any temperature (does that have anyones well-being in mind?) Would you want to spend mandatory time out there in those temperatures? 4. Their special education decisions are quite obviously changing staff working conditions. So I ask you how this doesn't have a place in negotiations. If it wasn't in your job description to do something would you do it on a regular basis without question, especially if it had a negative effect on those around you? Would you let your other students suffer and be happy with them getting much less attention (changes student learning) because of the extra duties that these decisions brought down? All I can say is there seems to be a lot of decisions being made by the board without much foresight.
KJW January 19, 2012 at 03:28 AM
Were you even at the meeting? No one is talking about a referendum! Now that is what I call 'stirring the pot'!
PrivateSector January 19, 2012 at 03:29 AM
Mr. Steindler--well, I guess we were at a different meeting. I won't debate your points as I simply do not agree what you viewed. So....the DHS teachers were there out of concerns of their kids? What I mostly heard from them was about how morale was low and how the District 113 board is not listening to the teachers, either, just like in District 109. Then I remember one District teacher almost having a heart attack because a parent was discussing curriculum and how it needs to be presented far in advance because she does not expect the teachers to work over the summer....yup, they were there as concerned parents, I know. So, you obviously feel that Jensen is very professional so I will only debate one fact with you. You may see it as unimportant, but I do because it is a measure of his character. He made innuendo about a new rule to board is proposing that would "allow your kids to be sent out in sub-zero temperatures..." Really? So, exactly what is Jensen trying to accomplish by tossing out such red meat garbage to further incite and worry parents? After that comment, why should I trust anything else he has to say? By the way, I was an active supporter and volunteer of the last 109 referundum. I went to the meeting/rally last night with an open mind, but when I could see them throwing everyting up on the wall to see what sticks, they lost my support.
John Russillo January 19, 2012 at 03:35 AM
Red meat garbage? What on earth are you talking about? As a parent, that is a pretty significant issue to me. I don't want my child outside in that kind of weather and the teachers are fighting that rule because they don't want the kids outside either. You are either a Board apologist or just a very bad judge of character because I think Mr. Jensen is an outstanding representative for the teachers and it is clear he has the children's best interests at the forefront.
PrivateSector January 19, 2012 at 03:35 AM
Well, I guess you must be a union-cronie? So, you are saying as a fact that the union is not asking for higher compensation? That question was asked last night and Jensen said he could not answer any specifics. My assumption is that they are asking for more, because they always do and the always get. So, how do you possibly know that information that they are not asking for more compensation???
John Russillo January 19, 2012 at 03:39 AM
Yes, well you conveniently forgot to mention that he also said that if salary and benefits were the only issues, the contract would have been done already. The issues of special ed and evaluations are the major sticking points right now.
A January 19, 2012 at 03:40 AM
The board is offering a benefit cut and virtual pay freeze (doesn't even counteract CPI) from what I hear. Their offer would be a pay cut to our teachers. Give them something that is respectable, when strategic planning financials, budgets, and retirement outlook show stability for 10 + years as Mr. Himmebaugh stated. Why does the administration get an increase of 8-10% each year, and hire 4 more people so that each individual administrator gets less work? Laughable, that is why our economy tanked, because of this kind of stuff in the private sector (poor management and accounting).
A January 19, 2012 at 03:47 AM
You would know this if you ask a few of the staff and saw the Board Member Steve Schwartz's comment that they have not gotten an answer to the initial board proposal on salary. It is in one of the Patch articles as well. You seem to be only looking at one side, if you don't trust Mr. Jensen, I urge you to go to someone on the teaching staff that you do and have a heart to heart.
Harry Steindler January 19, 2012 at 03:48 AM
Mr or Ms PrivateSector, Dennis Jensen was referring to the fact that until the last negotiating meeting the board had never mentioned that 0 degree wind chill only related to teachers meeting the bus - the inference had been that the admin could require teachers and kids to go out for recess as well. Funny - that seemed like a very minor part of the conversation yesterday - I believe he brought it up in reference to a questions about the three settled issues discussed in various writings - board emails, etc. You really are trying to stir up a lot of stuff aren't you? I think the teachers of which you again refer were making a general and important comment about the apparent change over time in the relationship of administrations and boards with the teachers and parents - at both the 109 and 113 levels. The main thing to take from that conversation - and something that I have tried to follow -is stay involved - understand how the schools work and do what I can to make it better as a parent and community member. Don't get your summer reference - I remember the conversation - you are so taking it out of context - you are really grasping at straws.
A January 19, 2012 at 03:58 AM
I urge you to read more into what is going on. You are out of touch. 109 does not need a referendum for 10+ years according to Himmebaugh
PrivateSector January 19, 2012 at 04:13 AM
Steindler--I am trying to stir up stuff? Really, funny how you turned that around. You are starting to sound like my little daughter...So, since I pointed out a fact that Jensen was trying to stir up stuff, I am the one actually stirring things up? Wow. Yup, you could not come back with a plausible explination, so I see, I am to blame... I don't know or care what Jensen was refering to, but it was clear his intent and consistent with the drumbeat. If is funny how your friends here accuse me of being a "board cronie", which is absolute nonsense. But, starting to think I should become a "board cronie" because I think I may have been on the wrong side of 109 for way too long....
Harry Steindler January 19, 2012 at 04:17 AM
First - I would appreciate it if you would call me Harry - or Mr. Steindler, if you need - my buddies or coaches of old can call me "Steindler". Second - I have no desire to continue "talking" with you.
PrivateSector January 19, 2012 at 04:59 AM
Mr. Steindler--I apologize for the prior, a bit out of line for sure. So please accept my apologies. Quite frankly, I hope everything you say turns out to be correct, but I suspect not. And my sense is that there is somewhat of a mob-mentality out there, and that usually produces lousy results. We have many tremendous teachers in this district, and one can argue that they are underpaid. We also have some very poor teachers as well that are protected in the current system. And that needs to change. Why would we pay (or even employ) a poor performer the same as a superstar teacher? Big disincentive, and about the worst thing for morale.
Louis Melenshon January 19, 2012 at 05:21 AM
Why does our School Superintendent have a fully paid car as part of her package? Does a person making over 200k not have the means to afford a car? Do taxpayers also pay for all the servicing and fuel too? While the teachers might not be asking for more $$$ that doesn't mean that there are not areas that should be reviewed to determine if logical and good faith cuts can be made. Every day i hear about more and more areas of fat on the bone here in our district!
John Russillo January 19, 2012 at 05:26 AM
And if you had paid attention last night you would have learned that there are new state mandates that address that very issue. Teachers will not be paid based on seniority but on performance rating. The teachers union simply wants to put the evaluation criteria in the contract. The board does not. So are you now telling me that it is fair for an employee to not know how he is being evaluated?
Harry Steindler January 19, 2012 at 06:27 AM
There seems to be a blind trust in the administration and an accompanying lack of interest in the views of the professionals (teachers and others) and parents involved. I have and will continue to encourage our board to engage these stakeholders – to listen, not lecture, to better understand what has so many in the community up in arms. We can certainly disagree about the purpose of last night’s meeting or the competency of those involved, but I have known many of the teachers in the district for 15 plus years and find them to be incredibly dedicated to our children and our community. They also happen to be extremely qualified to talk about the issues involved. I also listened in last night as two very knowledgeable people talked about the intractability of our current administration and the resultant insistence that discussion of special needs service models – in the form of working condition rights – be included in the contract. Hearing that conversation has me understand to an even greater degree why the teachers are fighting for this.
Harry Steindler January 19, 2012 at 06:28 AM
No apology needed - but thank you - it's easy to get going on the Patch. I think most everyone would agree with your comments regarding good teachers and poor performers. What has me engaged (and obviously many others) is the importance of bringing quality services to students with special needs. From many conversations that I have had with teachers, other special ed service providers and parents, and looking at the reports from the strategic planning process sponsored by the district last year, the district is not taking care of these students as they previously did or as many believe they should. I have been told by district people that I have known for years that bad district policies and unsupportive administrators are leading to these children being underserved. That should not be acceptable to anyone in our community. I have emailed the board and received responses indicating that everything is fine. (continued below)
Curious Resident January 19, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Here's the rationale to Private Sector....teachers of district 109 were not allowed to attend the meeting that happened on Tuesday night. As far as what you are hearing, I believe you are not hearing correctly. The fact is that special education services that have been changed are impacting the learning of all children in the classrooms! The administration has increased classes for the higher achieving students in social studies and science, however the special education classes especially in the middle school have been removed. There is no outside mainstream class support. So, what if anything do the special needs students learn. If they aren't getting it, then the theory is pull them out for 10-15 minutes, reteach or teach the concept and then put them in the class again. Now they have missed class time and are behind. As for the money...the salary is no increase if the benefits are increased, they actually don't gain a raise and the raise they have gotten goes out as well. As for the administrators all healthcare is paid for, they get an 8-10% raise each year, and they are doing a cohort for a PhD program paid by guess who....you!!!!!!!!! Private Sector....understand that the teachers are fighting for what is right for the children and them...as for Mr. Jensen he is a wonderful union president and supports all the teachers and working conditions of the teachers! Teachers that retired are not being replaced and hiring more administrators. See a problem? I do...
John Russillo January 19, 2012 at 04:29 PM
The more I hear about the benefits given to administrators, the angrier I get. Yes, principals are important. But why do I have to pay for their PhD programs? The Board has chosen to pay for the administrator's benefits, doctorate programs, and large salary increases but can't find the money to give the teachers a modest raise and a decent healthcare premium? Come on now. Board members, you need to stop taking everything the Superintendant tells you on faith. Use your heads and get both sides of the story. Ask yourself how you would want to be treated as a highly educated professional. Don't use the economy as an excuse to beat down the union, as many, many Boards are doing all over this country. You're better than that. This Village and this school district demands better than that.
anonymous January 19, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Louis, I so completely agree with you about the car thing. Ms. Groier can afford to buy her own car. However, I do want to throw my two cents in here about special education and teacher evaluations even if it incites all kinds of backlash against me. First of all, I understand the teaching profession quite well and teachers do not like accountability. For one, they do not like to be accountable for special ed kids in their classes. Their job becomes harder and they have to quite often deal more with parents. Everyone argues that the extra time that it takes a teacher to deal with special ed students takes away from the rest of the class or vice versa. Of course, this situation is not the case if the teacher simply puts in more time and effort to meet the needs of all the students in their class. I know. This isn't easy. It takes more work. This is exactly the reason the teachers are fighting this issue with the Board. I can't believe it is simply because they are concerned about the students. Rather, they would like special ed students to be dealt with outside their classroom because it really makes their job a lot easier. I wish people could see this whole thing more objectively. The union exists to protect teachers' rights, not the students. We need to remember that.
anonymous January 19, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Believe me. I think the Board and the administration need to do a number of things differently here too. I'm not just going to pick a side and become blind to seeing things from more than one perspective. This is what I think many people are doing and they don't even realize they are doing it. Now for teacher evaluations.... PrivateSector, you are absolutely right. Some of these bad apples need to be tossed. But the problem is they are protected under their contract because teacher evaluations remain a contractual issue. The only way to get rid of the bad apples is to take the evaluations out of the contract where poor performers can no longer be protected. I know. This is a scary thing for the teachers. But if you are a decent teacher, then you have nothing to worry about, and it is high time we have the means to get rid of teachers who need to go. If we are really putting the best interests of our kids first here, then we need to see this from the Board’s point of view. The union may argue that when teachers are not protected, the district can do what it likes with teachers who may be good teachers that the administration simply does not like. Yep. I guess they could, just like in any other job.
robyn whiteman January 19, 2012 at 07:00 PM
For those of us who have been in attendance at the Board meetings and the DEA forum, one of the points that many parents made, no matter which side they leaned towards, was that nothing could get resolved with a contentious, malicious attitude towards one another, the board, the teachers or the DEA. Personal attacks that involve mudslinging takes away from what needs to occur – progression and resolution of getting a contract. These negotiations are about the teachers but the bottom line is that we are participating because we want what is best for our kids. Anyone of us can take what is said and turn it into what we want to hear. People twist what is said to fill whatever personal agenda that they have created for themselves. I may not agree with the Admin and Board. I feel that aspects of the Board’s proposed agenda does not contend with what is the best for my kids and the teachers. Yet even though I don't always agree with the Board or particularly trust what they say, I am willing to hear what they have to say. If we want to make any sort of an impact we must look at the facts, what the issues are for both sides. Selective listening will only hasten our attempts to help get a contract signed. It must also be remembered that no matter what is said, it truly boils down to what is done. What steps have both sides taken to work toward a resolution. Actions speak louder than words.
robyn whiteman January 19, 2012 at 07:00 PM
The Board & Admin have finally started to work with the DEA. This movement is due to our involvement. Let’s keep showing up to the meetings and forums so that the Board will know, we as a community, are going nowhere until a contract is signed. Both sides have their facts listed on the respective websites. Please visit: Board facts and updates: http://www.dps109.org/BOE http://www.dps109.org/BOE/Pages/CommunityForum.aspx DEA: http://www.deerfield109teachers.wordpress.com/
Katie Bittner January 24, 2012 at 08:13 PM
How convenient that the Baord and Administration delayed the scheduled January 23rd committee of the whole meeting until the February 13 Board meeting. When I questioned this they said it was so the forums (in which they are also conveniently separating the elementary schools and the middle schools so no dialogue can occur between both parties/ groups of people) could take place and then the committee of the whole meeting will be at the February board meeting- again conveniently after two more dates of negotiations with teachers will have occurred.
Katie Bittner January 24, 2012 at 08:20 PM
WOW!!! You missed everything that was said at the meeting. And no one stages parent participation. Those two 113 teachers are parents of students in this district. Do you KNOW any of the teachers in 109? Overall the teachers in this district (I can speak specifically to Wilmot and Caruso) are phenomenal. I am sure you are so great at what you do and have no accountability for your performance- WHICH IS NOT AT ALL WHAT THE TEACHERS ARE ASKING FOR. They are asking for the board to give them the evaluation tool that will be used to rate their performance. THE REAL BOARD you speak of appears to have no education background except for what the administration feeds them!!!!
Katie Bittner January 24, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Yes and let's look at what her raises have been over the past years....I can guarantee you they exceed the percentages that the teachers may get as their raise.
Harry Steindler January 24, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Regarding Katie Bittner's comments today about the changed meeting schedule. I would encourage the teachers' negotiation team to not let up on the inclusion in the new contract of stipulations that specify working conditions related to special education. Additionally, I continue to encourage parents of children with special needs to not wait for the District's meetings. Please continue to express your concerns about the special education system and delivery of special education services directly to board members. The board's email addresses: ejja85@comcast.net'; 'michael.rosenbaum@dbr.com'; 'ribzb1@gmail.com'; 'nfbegley@comcast.net'; 'Debbie.muller@gmail.com'; 'sschwartz@Muchlaw.com'; Ron@flashcutcnc.com
Katie Bittner January 24, 2012 at 08:35 PM
Thank you Harry. I already e-mailed all the Board members. I am a Special Ed teacher and parent and I think parents need to continue to voice their concerns. Parents should also contact Jenell Mroz (director of Sped at the district level) to request that teachers be part of these forums. IT CRUCIAL THAT STAFF ARE PART OF THIS DIALOGUE.
Harry Steindler January 24, 2012 at 09:12 PM
I have suggested to the board that teachers and other special ed service providers be allowed an opportunity to talk with the board or with board members without administrators present - I don't know the administrators, but there seems to be a concern that to some degree, some of the administration is not being supportive of the delivery of services. Teachers and others may be reluctant to discuss their concerns in front of the administrators - they should have a chance to share their concerns directly with he board.
Katie Bittner January 24, 2012 at 09:37 PM
Harry-that is a great suggestion and now we will see what their response is . There is no doubt that teachers are reluctant to speak out-I have seen it first hand during IEP meetings.

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