The below statement was issued on Aug. 9 regarding ongoing negotiations between the District 300 School Board and LEAD300, District 300's union of teachers and other certified staff.
The D300 School Board wanted to update staff members and the community that the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB) has assigned a mediator to assist in ongoing negotiations with LEAD300, the union of teachers and other certified staff, per the request recently filed by the School Board and LEAD300 in compliance with Senate Bill 7.
D300 leaders are currently working with the mediator and LEAD representatives to schedule a series of mediation sessions beginning September 6, 2012, or soon thereafter.
Updates will be provided to the community when necessary and appropriate. In the meantime, the Board remains optimistic in its ability to collaborate with LEAD300, so that the district can continue to live within its limited financial means and stay focused on students.
On a related note, the School Board has in no way proposed any increase to class sizes. It is inaccurate to state that the School Board has proposed increasing class sizes. The current plan is for elementary class size caps to remain as they have been in recent years, as well as the middle and high school class averages.
What has been discussed, however, is the issue of “overload pay” to teachers and the Board’s desire to reduce this expense for the district. When a teacher has more students than the number defined in the LEAD300 contract, the school district must provide that teacher with overload pay, which is over and beyond the teacher’s regular salary.
In 2010‐2011, as required by the contract, 340 teachers in D300 received a total of $1.28 million in overload pay from the district beyond their regular salaries; in 2011‐2012, overload pay totaled $800,000. (Overload may be paid to a teacher even if a class is smaller than the “cap,” which is the maximum number of students allowed in a class before an additional teacher is added to that grade level / area.)
As previously stated, the Board would very much like to lower class sizes. But if the Board were to reduce the class sizes by an average of one student per class, it would cost the district approximately $1 million to $1.4 million a year.
This annual cost would need to be absorbed either through contract negotiations or elsewhere in the district budget. The D300 budget is already tight and will only grow tighter in the near future when the state reforms the amount of pension contributions that each district must contribute for its employees.
The School Board looks forward to receiving a specific proposal as to the salary schedule and benefits that LEAD300 would like for its members.
The Board would need specifics from LEAD300 before the Board could thoughtfully analyze the affordability of the proposal including its impact on overload pay, “step” increases in salary, class sizes, and student needs.
Should LEAD300 members need additional clarification, the Board encourages them to reach out to their school’s LEAD300 representatives.
The representatives have detailed information regarding when proposals were made (for example, a complete proposal was given by the Board to LEAD300 in early March 2012) and the specifics of those proposals. The School Board is confident that discussions will move forward positively with LEAD300 in the near future.