D218 Board Defends 'Last and Best Offer' to Teachers Union
D218 Superintendent Dr. John Byrne says board's offer to teachers union is "very generous." Teachers union will present district's offer to teachers at undisclosed meeting this week.
In response to the Patch story that D218 teachers’ contract negotiations had reached an impasse and were now being handled by a federal mediator, D218 sent out a press release on Friday acknowledging the deadlocked collective bargaining agreement.
D218 teachers’ four-year contract is set to expire on the first day of school on August 20, which is a freshman-only day. IEA Local 218, which represents teachers at Richards, Shepard and Eisenhower High Schools, and the Delta Learning Center, rejected the district school board’s first offer in May.
“While several other neighboring school districts seek to freeze salaries and eliminate faculty positions, the board has offered substantial raises considering the difficult economic times,” Superintendent Dr. John Byrne said. “The teachers experienced a 40-percent raise during the 2008-12 contract years which was settled just prior to the economic woes becoming reality.”
See the two offers side by side. Read the pdfs.
The school board and teachers union have met three times with the federal mediator. At the last sit-down on July 9, the district declared an “impasse.”
An “impasse" occurs when no agreement has been reached and both parties believe that they are unable to make any more movement. The D218 board has since submitted its “last and best offer.”
Byrne pointed out that instead of cutting faculty positions or decreasing the number of classes in which students may enroll, D218 hired six new teachers.
The D218 superintendent said the primary differences of the two proposals center on salaries and health care expenses. The board of education has offered an average salary increase of 2.5 percent each year for the next four years.
The union has proposed raises totaling 15.44 percent over four years.
“Under the board’s offer, a teacher with 18 years of experience and a master’s degree plus 45 hours of post-graduate credits would earn $111,046 in 2012-2012, and $119,585 in year four,” the district stated.
The total dollar increase for the four-year proposal from the board of education plan is $3,250,182. The union’s total dollar salary increase for the 4-year proposal is $5,200,101.
The D218 Board of Education also laid out its offer for health benefits, offering co-pay expenses of $20 for primary care and $40 for specialists. The union has offered $15 for primary care and $30 for specialists.
Further, the district is proposing a similar increase in co-pays and deductibles for all 728 district employees, which the district says will save approximately $500,000 per year. Co-pays and deductibles have not been adjusted in the district in nine years. Total health costs for the district are over $13 million per year.
According to district, “both sides have tentatively agreed that over the four years of the contract these contributes will increase to 20 percent."
"Compared to what employees receive in private enterprise, the board’s offer is very generous,” Byrne said.
The district also touted receiving the highest possible fiscal rating for the eighth consecutive year, and a perfect score of 4.0 from the Illinois State Board of Education.
District 218 is in a group of just 10 percent of all Illinois public school districts that are currently rated as financially sound by the Illinois State Board of Education, the press release read.
Bradley Wright, president of the teachers’ union and a science teacher at Eisenhower High School, said he received the same statement on Friday.
Wright said that the contract the union bargained for four years ago “brought us from the bottom of area districts to the middle of the pack.”
“Four years ago our salaries were at the bottom,” Wright said. “One thing Dr. Byrne didn’t include with that idea of how much average raises were over the last four years was that the district increased their reserves by many millions of dollars over that same period of time.”
Wright said the union’s membership is meeting this week to review the district’s “last and best offer.”
“We’re not meeting for anything other than to give the information we have about the district’s proposal and have a discussion,” he said.
The district still hasn’t responded to the union’s offer of meeting dates with the federal mediator. Wright would not see where or when the teachers union was meeting this week.
"I’m sure they know through rumors when our meetings are but still haven’t agreed to the dates we offered,” Wright said. “We’re going to have our meetings and send another letter to meet with us.”
Regardless of whether teachers have a contract in hand on the first day of school on August 20, Wright said that school would start on time.
Read more about D218 teachers' contract negotiations: