Jul 29, 2014
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Teachers’ Union Will Picket Tonight’s District 65 Board Meeting

Members of the District 65 Educator’s Council and their supporters will rally along McDaniel Street before the school board meeting Monday, Aug. 20.

Teachers’ Union Will Picket Tonight’s District 65 Board Meeting Teachers’ Union Will Picket Tonight’s District 65 Board Meeting Teachers’ Union Will Picket Tonight’s District 65 Board Meeting

As contract negotiations continue between administrators and the teachers’ union, members of the union are planning to picket Monday night’s school board meeting. 

Both parties have been trying to agree on a new contract since March; the teachers' current contract expires on the first day of school this year. In June, representatives from the District 65 Educator's Council (DEC) and the administration agreed that it was necessary to bring in a federal mediator. and are currently ongoing, officials say. 

According to union president Jean Luft, discussion has “stalled around a series of proposed changes for the next school year.”

Specifically, union members have  the district’s plan to trim the budget by eliminating some elementary fine arts teachers, increasing class sections for other fine arts teachers and dividing those teachers among schools, according to Luft. 

“DEC believes these changes will have a significantly negative effect on the quality of education in District 65 and impair the district’s ability to recruit and retain excellent teachers,” Luft said in a press release earlier this summer. On Monday, she said the union was still “hopeful” that an agreement could be reached without a strike, a move the teachers’ union has already authorized.

Board president Katie Bailey has said that the district is “willing to negotiate" with the teachers' union "to provide a fair contract that is both fiscally responsible and delivers a high quality education for all our students."

She has also said that the proposed cuts are necessary to stave off major financial troubles in the future. 

“Our process began last spring, when we saw a large deficit looming,” she said at . “We are avoiding the massive layoffs that some districts have faced. We believe our approach is better than having larger class sizes and fewer classroom teachers.” 

Union members and their supporters will gather at the , 1500 McDaniel St., at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 20, and plan to begin picketing outside at 6 p.m. The regular board meeting convenes at 7 p.m. 

Tonight’s agenda includes a motion to adopt and place on public display a tentative budget for the 2012-13 school year. Board members unanimously approved a motion to send the tentative budget to the full board for a vote at . The budget includes a five percent reduction in expenditures, but many of the numbers are still up in the air, since teacher salaries and benefits make up 85 percent of the district’s expenditures. 

“I know it’s not easy to reduce our expenditures by five percent, but I think it was something the board needed to do to stay solvent,” board president Andrew Pigozzi said at the finance committee meeting. The tentative budget is expected to be put on display to the public in late August, with a public hearing and vote by the board scheduled for Monday, Sept. 24. 

 

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