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Teacher talks on going in two Lake County districts

Recent contract agreements

Teachers in three school districts represented by the Illinois Education Association won new contract agreements in recent months after vowing to strike, including: Lake Forest High School District 115, which struck for a week in September; Deerfield elementary District 104; and North Shore elementary District 112 in Highland Park/Higwood, where a strike in October lasted one day.

Updated: January 15, 2013 2:15AM

Members of Lake County Federation of Teachers Local 504 IFT/AFT are plowing ahead through various stages of collective bargaining in three Lake County elementary school districts.

In Lake Villa District 41, a new agreement has been reached; in Woodland District 50, federal mediation is about to begin; and in Grayslake District 46, a strike-date has been set for Jan. 16.

Members of the Grayslake Federation of Teachers voted in October to reject a “last, best” offer submitted by the district when it declared an impasse during federal mediation. The union, which includes 327 teachers and certified staff, and the district have been bargaining since February.

Ellen Correll, superintendent of the eight-school district which has an enrollment of 3,960, is looking ahead to the next scheduled negotiation session on Nov. 28.

“I would hope that we would make some progress and there wouldn’t be a strike,” Correll said Thursday. “I remain positive that both sides would be able to come to an agreement.”

Correll declined to comment on respective offers by the two sides, but union representative Jim Pergander said the sticking point is compensation.

“Our ‘last best’ offer asks for 3 percent this year and 3 percent in the second year,” he said.

Members are balking at a district proposal, according to Pergander, which would take away compensation some members receive in lieu of health insurance and redistribute it as a one-time $1,300 per-member bonus.

“We do hope to settle this at the table,” Pergander said.

The district’s last, best offer, posted online along with the union offer by the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, argues that raises for teachers are not in the budget and outlines an expected $1.45 million reduction in state funding for 2013, a 10 percent decline in equalized assessed valuation of taxable property over the past year and an anticipated 25 percent drop in federal grant funding.

Pergander said the two-month notice for a possible strike allows for the holidays and gives parents plenty of time to make arrangements for their students. “We didn’t want to catch them unawares,” he said.

At Woodland, where the Gurnee-based LCFT represents 812 certified and non-certifed employees, the union is entering into mediation with the school board after negotiating since January. Both parties will meet with a federal mediator today, Nov. 16.

“We’re still bargaining,” said LCFT union rep Matthew Beverly. “It’s been a long process. We have a lot of issues. But we’re still working toward a settlement.”

Woodland, a 6,600-pupil district with schools in Gages Lake and Gurnee, coped with a teacher’s strike in 2003, during which more than 7,000 students lost 12 academic days. Members of the Woodland Council agreed to a one year-contract extension last school year that included no salary increase and a freeze on stipends for student supervision and extra duty pay.

In Lake Villa, a new, three-year contract was formally ratified by the union on Nov. 6 and approved by the school board Nov. 12. Details of the agreement, which covers approximately 220 certified staff, were not immediately available.

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