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D-155 teachers’ rally for support continues

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013 11:13 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013 10:52 a.m. CDT
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(Sarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com)
Cary-Grove teacher Theresa Miller of Walworth, Wis., pickets with other teachers and supporters outside of Crystal Lake Central High School before Tuesday's school board meeting.

CRYSTAL LAKE – For the second time in two months, teachers and their supporters rallied before a Community High School District 155 board meeting and urged the district to come to a contract agreement with the union.

Days after contract offers from the union and district were published for the public, supporters of the union’s contract proposal told board members they needed to keep investing in teachers to keep the history of excellent academic success the district has accomplished.

More than 100 teachers applauded and cheered after each speaker in a parade of 13 talked about the importance the District 155 staff had on them or their children. Jim Bartlett said he was inspired to become a teacher, Patricia Bandolik praised her daughter’s rise to valedictorian and acceptance into a European university and 2009 graduate Kayla Boddy used her accounting skills to suggest the board’s offer actually decreases overall pay to teachers because of pension contributions.

“Look around, our kids aren’t here, but these are their champions,” resident Angie Weaver told board members. “Please support them.”

Both the union and district posted their most recent contract offers to each other on their respective websites over the weekend as part of the formal impasse process with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board.

The union is looking for an increase to the base salary in year three of the proposed three-year contract while the district is instead offering lump sum increases to teachers at the top of the experience scale, according to documents posted to the two entities’ websites.

The board’s offer also shifts an increasing portion of pension contributions to the employees, going from 26 percent in the first year to 68 in the third year. Currently, the board pays the majority of the employee contribution and the employer contribution.

By cutting the contribution, the district is in effect cutting teacher pay, the union argued on its website. The union also proposed that teachers who are assigned a sixth class receive a $3,000 stipend each semester.

The union projects its plan would increase district costs for salaries and benefits from $49.3 million this fiscal year to $51.8 million in the final year of the proposed contract.

The district has added a tool on its website that allows teachers or taxpayers to plug in information on teachers’ experience, level of education and other factors to determine an estimate of what that employee would make under the board’s proposal.

Mark Kovack, assistant superintendent of education, said district officials and union representatives have another negotiation session scheduled for this week.

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