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D-155 teachers union reaches out to public with website

It’s part of efforts to inform public in negotiations

Published: Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013 10:58 p.m. CDT

CRYSTAL LAKE – The Community High School District 155 teachers union has launched a website to educate the public about its ongoing efforts to negotiate a new contract and will hold an “informational picket” before Tuesday’s board meeting.

The website – www.d155teachers.org – provides information on student success, a typical teacher’s day and financial comparisons with other districts in an effort to educate residents on issues involved in negotiations. The 440 members of the District 155 Education Association have been working without a contract since July 1.

Justin Hubly, president of the association, said the teachers and district have a long history of negotiating fair contracts and talks are continuing with the help of a federal mediator. Negotiations stalled briefly because the mediator was unable to assist during the federal government shutdown that ended Thursday.

“We hope to encourage the board to reach a fair agreement in a timely fashion,” he said.

The website highlights teacher pay and student achievement through ACT scores compared with seven other districts. In District 155, teachers receive an average salary of $94,866 – the second lowest in the list of districts – and students averaged 22.9 on the ACT – the second highest in the list.

The highest average teacher salaries are in Maine Township 207 at $116,044 and the lowest are found in Downers Grove District 99 at $89,652. Libertyville District 128 has average salaries of $96,372 and boasts the highest ACT average scores at 25.3.

District 155 board President Ted Wagner, who has negotiated previous contracts with the union, said he supported the teachers’ public outreach and was optimistic an agreement would be reached.

But coming off the district’s first-ever operating deficit last fiscal year with a shortfall of $1.8 million, Wagner said the board needs to be as thorough as possible with every financial decision.

“My mother-in-law was a teacher, my wife was a teacher, so I fully understand,” Wagner said of the union’s outreach. “As a matter of fact, I appreciate it. I think it’s good they get involved. Our teachers are wonderful and do an outstanding job.”

Hubly said he expects about 150 teachers to show up at the district office on 1 S. Virginia Road at 6 p.m. Tuesday ahead of the board meeting scheduled for 7:30 p.m. He said it would be an opportunity for residents to receive information about what the teachers do for the school and community.

The board already passed a budget that could carry a surplus or deficit depending on the outcome of negotiations.

The district could have a $200,000 surplus if salaries and benefits remain flat as projected, but for every 1 percent potential increase, the district must spend about $500,000, according to T. Ferrier, assistant superintendent of finance. A 1 percent increase could cause a $300,000 deficit.

Learn more

Visit www.d155teachers.org to see the union’s information on student success, teachers’ responsibilities, financial comparisons with other districts and more issues surrounding negotiations

The association will conduct an informational picket at 6 p.m. Tuesday outside the district office at 1 S. Virginia Road before the 7:30 p.m. board meeting.

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