The letter below comes from District 112 School Board President Bruce Hyman. Check back Monday for the full story on the looming teachers' strike.
This morning, board members were disappointed to learn that the teachers' union, the North Shore Education Association, filed a 10-day intent to strike notice with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB).
Under state law, the earliest date that teachers may legally strike is October 12.
Earlier: Teachers Rally Outside of Board Meeting
As you know by now, the school board and the union have been meeting with a federal mediator since July in an effort to successfully negotiate a contract settlement. The next mediation session is scheduled for next Thursday, October 4. The board remains committed to remaining in negotiations as long as it takes to achieve a settlement that is fair to both parties and that will ensure the long-term financial stability of the district.
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While the board is hopeful that union members will continue to work until an agreement is reached, the district would be remiss if it does not plan in advance for the possibility of a strike. Contingency plans are being made and the district has reached out to other units of government and social service agencies that would be willing to provide alternative programming for the district's children in the event of a strike. The district is also making plans to keep the Green Bay Early Childhood Center, Oak Terrace, Northwood and possibly Sherwood open as activity centers to provide a safe and structured environment for children while school is not in session. These schools would be staffed by administrators, support staff and volunteers. These would not count as regular school days, and regular educational programming would not be provided.
The board's objective for the ultimate settlement is to ensure that the district has the necessary resources to provide all of its children, now and in the future, with an outstanding education.
The district's revenues come largely from local property taxes, which by state law are capped at the rate of the Consumer Price Index. In the past three years, the district has reduced millions of dollars from its budget and has made cuts in staff, programs and services in order to avoid depleting its reserve fund and jeopardizing the district's financial future. An agreement that is similar to the most recent contract will lead to further staff reductions and more painful cuts in programs and services, and an increase in class sizes.
While the board respects and values its teachers, it also has ultimate responsibility for ensuring the district's long-term viability and making decisions that are in the best interests of the district's children. This is not about whether or not we value our teachers. They are the heart of our school district. We want to ensure we preserve an educational environment that continues to offer them superb working conditions: reasonable class sizes, adequate support personnel in the classroom and programs that foster innovation and high student achievement.
To meet those goals, the next contract settlement must keep expenses in line with revenues. We cannot repeat the past.
Bruce Hyman, M.D.
President, North Shore School District 112 Board of Education