More of the same, D-300 union says

CARPENTERSVILLE – The latest bargaining session at District 300 produced little change in negotiations, with finances and class sizes continuing to dominate contract talks, the union president said.

The sides met again Tuesday, nearly a week after the district’s union, LEAD 300, formally filed a strike notice.

Teachers can picket beginning Tuesday, but a strike date hasn’t been set, LEAD 300 President Kolleen Hanetho said.

She said the latest talks focused entirely on finances and how to pay for smaller class sizes. The district averages 33 to 37 students in elementary classes.

“The issue is the district is unwilling to put any additional funds to lower class sizes,” Hanetho said.

“They expect the teachers to take concessions to pay for it,” she said.

She said the district board has barely moved from the final offer it submitted earlier this month after the union declared a formal impasse in negotiations. The offer, Hanetho said, is essentially unchanged from the one union members voted down in October before they authorized a strike.

The board proposed capping class sizes at 28 students in kindergarten, first and second grades, and 31 students in third, fourth and fifth grades. To pay for it, the board suggested cutting back some benefits and certain pay, while adding slightly to the automatic “step” increases that teachers get for classroom experience.

Board member Joe Stevens, a lead district negotiator and spokesman, declined to discuss Tuesday’s negotiations, saying only that the meeting produced “some progress.” Earlier this month, he said the school board’s offer was a fair deal that achieved what both sides want – lower class sizes.

The two sides are scheduled to meet again today. They have been negotiating since late spring.

Meanwhile, Superintendent Michael Bregy released more details this week on the district’s plan if teachers go out on strike.

Parents have until the end of business today to register their students for three emergency attendance centers that would be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. during a strike.

The centers are for kindergartners through sixth-graders whose parents are unable to supervise them during daytime hours. The centers will be at Carpentersville, Dundee and Hampshire middle schools.

To register, visit the district’s website at www.d300.org.

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