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Teachers hold strictly to contract as negotiations continue

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013 5:56 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013 11:20 p.m. CDT

McHENRY – Three months into the school year, District 156 teachers are still working under the terms of their expired contract – and as of this week, they’re only doing what’s spelled out in the contract.

All activities and extracurriculars are running as scheduled, but teachers are not staying beyond the “building hours” – 20 minutes before school starts and 20 minutes after it ends – laid out in the two-year contract that expired this year, Superintendent Mike Roberts said.

A mediator has been brought in, and a session is scheduled for Friday.

Roberts is optimistic the move – which is typically done as a show of force during negotiations – won’t lead to a strike.

“I think what they’re doing is textbook, playbook from the [National Education Association],” he said. “We’re not surprised. This goes on a lot.”

Greg Eiserman, a co-president of the McHenry High School Teachers Association, did not return multiple calls for comment.

District 156 usually has a contract by this point in the year, but a mediator was called in the last time a contract was negotiated.

The last agreement, negotiated during a period of financial upheaval, resulted in a reduction in extracurricular stipend pay, higher health insurance contributions by teachers and frozen wages for the past two school years. The average teacher salary for the district is $72,196.

The district’s finances no longer are in such dire straits and the financial future is starting to looking positive, money is still tight, and the district’s education and retirement funds need shoring up, according to Roberts and the auditor.

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