Evergreen Park school board, teachers to resume talks Thursday
BY STEVE METSCH firstname.lastname@example.org October 3, 2012 11:44AM
Updated: November 5, 2012 11:31AM
Teachers union and school board officials in Evergreen Park School District 124 are expected to go back to the negotiating table late Thursday afternoon at village hall.
Both sides met in a hastily called session Wednesday night at village hall that stretched into the early morning hours on Thursday. They met for nine hours, but could settle on a contract that would get approximately 2,000 students back in school.
At about 2 a.m. Thursday morning, school board president Kathy Rohan said they had made some progress, but would not elaborate. Illinois Federation of Teachers spokesman Dave Comerford said their talks had included plans on health insurance.
The two sides previously met Monday night for about 51/2 hours — a session that ended when the board threatened to not allow students to make up school days lost to the strike or pay teachers for those lost days, union officials said.
It’s unclear how far apart both sides are after the latest bargaining round. Neither side would comment on details of their negotiations.
But heading into the latest bargaining, the school board was offering a four-year contract; the union wants a three-year pact.
The board is offering pay raises based on the Consumer Price Index, with bonuses based on student test scores. The teachers want raises of at least 3 percent each year and staunchly oppose basing bonuses on test scores.
Teachers now pay 25 percent of their medical insurance premium while the district picks up 75 percent. The deal is 10/90 for union members with individual coverage. The board has proposed that teachers instead fund a Health Savings Account, which would be used to cover their health care costs, Pajeau said.
“So you’re self-managing your health care. Our teachers have enough to manage with their classrooms and education plans,” she said. “You’d have to keep track of everything. That’s why we have PPOs and HMOs.”
Details of each side’s proposals can be found at www.d124.org.
Teachers picketing at Northwest School “would like to be back in school,” physical education teacher Kelly Normoyle said Wednesday, but are willing to strike “as long as it takes.” Normoyle brought along her 3-month-old daughter, Kasey, in a stroller.
Kindergarten teacher Debbie Gibbons is concerned about insurance rates, which the union said would rise dramatically under the school board’s plan. Pajeau said the board has “no proof the insurance program needs to be changed.”
Meghan Doyle hopes daughter, Mia, 7, the eldest of four, is soon back at Southwest School. This was Mia’s “special week” in the second grade, when she would read a book to the class and bring in items for show-and-tell.
The strike cost Mia her week, so Doyle let her get her ears pierced Tuesday as a treat.
“I’m a stay-at-home mom, but I’m sure the parents who pay for child care (are frustrated),” Doyle said. “I hope this doesn’t go into next week. Everyone wants this to be resolved.”