Opinions differ on Niles teacher contract talksPublished 8:55pm Monday, June 18, 2012
The Niles Community Schools Board of Education is hearing it from both sides of the aisle.
One woman applauded the board for doing what is right, and not what is popular, during Monday’s regular board meeting.
Another woman accused board members of treating teacher contract negotiations in a hostile and adversarial manner.
The comments come amid an negotiation process that has been ongoing for more than a year.
The board maintains teachers need to take at least an 8 percent cut in pay in addition to hard caps on insurance in order to solve a “structural deficit problem.”
Teachers’ union supporters argue the district is exaggerating its dire financial situation and asking for too large a cut.
Kelly Florkowski, parent of a Ring Lardner student, said what is most disturbing is teachers aren’t pounding the table and asking for a raise — they are just asking for no cuts.
“I don’t think there is a single person that can’t empathize with that,” Florkowski said. “Is there anyone here willing or eager to take a pay cut, particularly if an employer seems to be devaluing their importance and belittling their efforts?”
Oak Manor Principal Robin Hadrick, on the other hand, said she is grateful to have a board willing to do what is right and not what is popular.
She said four years ago her husband was laid off without warning after 22 years of work as an engineer.
“Unlike our district board, his company did not care enough about their employees to ask them what they could do to help out the failing financial situation of the company and save their jobs,” Hadrick said. “Having all of us … sacrifice a little in order to save a few from losing it all is the right thing to do.”
According to district budget projections, the district will go into deficit sometime in the 2013-14 school year if nothing changes.
Negotiations are scheduled to go into fact finding in early July. Fact finding was originally scheduled for Monday through June 27.