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D124 Plays Hardball With EP Teachers Union

Evergreen Park teachers union has until 5 p.m. Friday to accept D124 school board's counteroffer. No bargaining sessions scheduled for the rest of this week.

There was no school on Tuesday for 1,800 Evergreen Park students as teachers and paraprofessionals walked the picket line on the first day of the first strike in Dist. 124’s history.

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The Evergreen Park Federation of Teachers’ bargaining team walked out of contract talks Monday evening after learning that the Dist. 124 school board would not be allowing paying teachers or staff nor allowing them to make up missed work days lost during the strike.

ABC-7 News reported D124 Board President Kathy Rohan denying claims that the school board had threatened the union’s bargaining team during Monday’s contract negotiations.

"We did not threaten anything, but part of our final proposal was that missed days would not be made up," Rohan told ABC-7 News. "If all the days are automatically made up, the kids are losing, and the people walking out on their jobs are not because their final pay at end of year would not be affected."

Both counterproposals from Monday night’s bargaining session are posted on the D124 website. Patch has also included pdfs with this report.

No new bargaining sessions have been scheduled for the rest of this week. The Evergreen Park teachers union has until 5 p.m. Friday to accept the school board's counter offer presented to the union bargaining team on Monday night.

The school district is prepared to forego state aid—about $7,000 per day—for each day the teachers are out on strike. Illinois public schools are required to carry 176 attendance days.

D124 Superintendent Dr. Robert Machak said the loss of teacher and staff pay for days lost to the strike was “one part of the conversation” during Monday’s contract talks.

“There was no discussion about it,” Machak said. “The union’s response to the board was that they got up and left.”

The state allows school districts five emergency days. Should teachers and paraprofessionals return to the classroom before the end of this week, no state aid or teachers’ pay will be lost due to the strike.

“If teachers come back Thursday this is a non-issue,” the district superintendent said. “You are paid to be in school in the classroom. If you voluntarily choose to walk out from that responsibility why would you be paid for that?”

While teachers would not be paid for make-up days, students would still be making up classes for any days missed due to the work stoppage, Machak said.

The district could receive a state waiver requiring students to attend class on such government holidays as Lincoln’s Birthday and Presidents Day. Also under consideration is a plan to offer alternative enrichment summer school programs taught by substitutes and volunteers to help students make up lost days.

“I would need to meet with the board regarding a contingency plan if the strike lasted more than a month,” Machak said. “I hope it wouldn’t go that long. At some point we may need to consider bringing in substitutes.”

Machak described the days leading up to the strike at the district’s school buildings disruptive for students.

“It has been a frustrating start to the school year,” Machak said. “Beginning with so many distractions, missing days and not making up days, ribbons in trees and teachers wearing the same colored shirts. It’s time taken away from the ultimate purpose of why we’re here.”

The district has posted a list of learning resources that parents can use to keep children academically active while off from school.  

Read Past Coverage of the Contract Negotiations:

  • Strike On: EP Teachers Walk Picket Line
  • Last Chance for EP Teachers and D124 to Avoid Strike
  • Scenes of a Protest: EP Teachers Stage Noisy Rally on 95th Street
  • Threat of EP Teachers Strike Looms
  • EP Teachers Set Oct. 2 Strike Date
  • No Agreement In D124 Contract Talks

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Plectrum October 03, 2012 at 04:50 PM
I think it is important to keep in mind that the school board members are volunteers. They are not compensated for their time and effort, and they have expended an extraordinary amount of both as of late. I would also ask that everyone here refrain from Ad hominem attacks. We all live in this community and should have a right to express our opinions without being personally attacked.
Taxpaying Parent October 03, 2012 at 04:58 PM
If D124 is so severly underpaid, they have an large amount of teachers will very long service years. If you are comparing D124 to other districts please look at their district websites to see the size of their "nest eggs" compared to EP and also the demographics of that district versus Evergreen Park. If you want to look at some costs let's discuss what the daycare costs of this week is costing the parents. Lets assume out of 1800 students 1,000 students will need some type of daycare. Let's say the parents of those children pay a cheap amount of $100 for the week for daycare, what is the total cost to Evergreen Park taxpayers about $100K. Parents and students are the ones absorbing this strike right now. The D124 teachers do a fantastic job, but in this economy the days of minimal insurance costs and paid healthcare after retirement is a thing of the past. I work for a very large company and HSA options were was added last year, take it or leave it. I do worry about the impact that a first-time strike will have on the community. The sides are divided and very emotional and ugly. As a parent who does not support the teachers I do worry how they will feel when they return and I did not have a blue ribbon or honk for their support. That is the main reason for not using my real name, we have to be honest you can say you forgive, but forgetting is something entirely different.
Carol October 03, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Both sides should be sitting down together every chance they can until this is settled. This whole thing is tearing the community apart.
jjb October 03, 2012 at 05:18 PM
I found the link below interesting. Obviously this only states the perspective of the board, but I would be interested in hearing the unions response. http://www.d124.org/Strike/FAQs.pdf
KB October 03, 2012 at 05:40 PM
In order to make $62,000 in district 124 you have to be a 20 year teacher with a masters degree. That is low for that much time on the job. A teacher who has a BA in education tops out just under $46,000. This is also very low. You’re argument of, “Is it possible our district is paying the right amount and the rest of the districts are paying too much?” needs to be re-thought. If surrounding areas pay more compared to your district, the best talent goes elsewhere. If you want district 124 to obtain, and retain the best talent, they have to be competitive. $62,000 after dedicating 20 years of your service does not compare to the competitive market. As many people have said, there are a lot of young, talented teachers out there that would love the opportunity to teach under the current conditions being proposed, but the idea is to retain your teachers. That is the proven way to get the best results.
SC October 03, 2012 at 05:46 PM
And as an RN we are not given increases for all the mandatory training and learning we do yearly. We are also not compensated for having a masters degree as teachers are. I am paid $29 per hour which equates to about the same yearly salary as the average D124 teacher. I am not complaining about my pay. If I had a problem with it, I would look for a new job. Striking is not a viable option if you would like to be taken seriously in your community. Strike = replaceable. As far as I am concerned theses unions are trying to squeeze the last $$ out of their communities because they see the gravy train will be ending in the near future.
R Gibbons October 03, 2012 at 06:17 PM
Lennie Jarrett... Please go to the website for the Illinois State Law on mandated school days. You will find your answer there. The school district is threatening all Village residents when they make such claims. And it was quoted in this article what occurred.
Bryan October 03, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Just one comment regarding retirement. Teachers do NOT get paid healthcare in retirement. State of Illinois employees do, but teachers pay for theirs. There is a group plan for the retirees, but when I check my wife's, it was apparent that it will cost several hundred dollars per month.
Concerned Citizens of D124 October 03, 2012 at 06:58 PM
The Union stated the negotiations became "threatening" as opposed to intimidation. It is the Union's policy to walk away once threats are spewed. Perhaps the board did not intend to come across as threatening, but it was received as such. If this is the case, the problem is a serious serious communication problem that must be addressed and resolved before we see any positive outcome. These issues must be put aside for the sake of not only our children but for the future sake of this community.
Saul Levinsky October 03, 2012 at 07:02 PM
KB are you a liar or misinformed? I can site specific examples, using the Illinois Board of Education's database, in which teachers do not meet your criteria and make above the amount you stated based on degree and experience. Your argument is invalid. Let's say for argument's sake that Evergreen park's teacher's salaries are comparatively low. Your conclusion states that the best talent will go else where and get paid more money. I would questions this logic since acquiring a teaching position in a quality community like Evergreen Park would be hard to come by. Can you please share with us the alternatives these teacher's have? Teaching is a very competitive profession, I know young graduates who have given up trying to get placed at a school or can't get a position higher than substitute. The notion that teacher's or the union have any leverage is misguided. The strike is nothing more than unions across the state trying to flex muscle.
KB October 03, 2012 at 09:04 PM
One alternative would be the neighboring city of Oak Law, another would be the neighboring city of Chicago. Go to Oak Lawn’s district 123 website, CPS website HR4u, and EP’s district 124 website. All of them post their salary schedules. You will see that what I posted was exactly correct. You seem to be the misinformed one, or the one that believes what other people tell you. On one of the links on this page you will find that 124’s BOE compared 124 teachers to Oak Lawn’s 123 average salaries, they only showed a 2.5% difference. This may be true in average salary, but the correct way to look at it is not to take the mean, but the median salary. By taking the mean, they are able to make it seem much closer, when in fact there is something like a 9% difference in median pay. If you look at the afore mentioned salary schedules, you will see that a first year teacher in Oak Lawn and Chicago make about what a seventh or eighth year teacher makes in district 124. By 10 years, there is a 17% pay difference for teacher with a MA in Oak Lawn compared to 124 teachers. Chicago is a ridiculous 47% difference in total compensation. It is all there, thanks to the FOIA, written down in law binding bargaining agreement contracts with these cities and their respective teacher unions.
AH October 03, 2012 at 09:59 PM
SD 124 is not at the lowest end. They compared themselves to other schools with a much larger tax base like Orland School Dist, Chicago and the Palos Park school district. They even compared themselves to OakLawn/Hometown Dist which their tax base is TWICE the size of ours - and compared to them our teachers salaries are only SLIGHTLY LESS by $1500.00. Please.....I had to pay for my higher education (which is a Doctorate mind you) to remain competitive in my field for no increase in salary amongst my peers as well.
KB October 04, 2012 at 01:01 AM
AH, PLease read my last post that disputes your $1500 statement. Teachers, and almost every other person in the world, have to pay for their higher education as well. What you make at your job has nothing to do what teachers make at thiers.
SchoolMom October 04, 2012 at 01:31 AM
EP Residents: Let's take a look at some other suburbs, particularly those considered more affluent, like Hinsdale. Hinsdale's property tax rate is 4.8, and Evergreen Park's tax rate is 11. A teacher working for 3 years with a MASTER's degree in EP makes $46,000. The same teacher in Hinsdale makes roughly $60,000. (http://www.familytaxpayers.org) If we don't use our high tax dollars to fund our schools and their employees, and compensate them with competitive wages, we will lose our teachers, and then our schools. The federal law No Child Left Behind gives parents in ANY community the right to apply for placement in schools not in their district, or even their neighborhood. If enrollment in EP schools go down in a few years due to this controversy, District 124 will be forced to accept these students who may be from low-performing schools and as a result, bring the status of our schools, and then our community, down. Yes, times are rough and taxes are high. But people, you pay for what you get. Keep the GREEN in Evergreen and pay our teachers what they deserve.
Charles Johnson October 04, 2012 at 02:40 AM
This fear of a pay differential is illusory. This payroll differential is not new, its existed for a long time and, yet, there are still experienced, quality teachers working in the district. Some would have you believe that they'll switch districts because of it. That won't happen. First, there are not many open positions to switch to as districts are not hiring, and second, even if they do have openings, they are not going to hire someone at the MA+20 level. Most districts over the summer that needed to fill openings were getting at least 100+ applicants per open position. There is a dramatic OVER-supply of available talent in the market. A district can hire a free agent teacher with 5-10 years of experience at the BA+1 level and that teacher is more than happy to accept that offer. So there is no risk of any talent loss due to the compensation level currently offered to the union. To overpay for labor right now is just plain dumb.
Cares about the kids October 04, 2012 at 03:09 AM
Way to go Sarah. I continue to be appalled when I read how people are treating each other in these posts. There are always two sides to disputes. Let them negotiate in good faith and get this mess over with.
Bob October 04, 2012 at 05:21 AM
"In order to make $62,000 in district 124 you have to be a 20 year teacher with a masters degree." According to www.isbe.net, the EP124 teachers are paid an average of $62,785 with an average experience of 15.8 years. The median salary would be nice to know, but the state doesn't collect that data. Based upon your claim, it would seem that senior faculty take a unfairly disproportionate amount of the payroll. Sounds like freezing the upper end (top teacher salaries went over $93K in 2010. How much is the highest paid teacher paid in 2012?) and giving above COLA raises to younger teachers make sense. Would the union be willing to propose that? "If you want district 124 to obtain, and retain the best talent, they have to be competitive." They're clearly able to do that under the proposed contract. I understand there area huge numbers of highly qualified faculty seeking jobs at 124. The evidence to refute this point would be significant faculty numbers leaving 124 for better paying jobs. How many senior, highly paid teachers are leaving 124 for higher paying jobs, KB, this year and last? My guess is "zero". That means that the district is paying enough to retain quality faculty. BTW, what is the union policy on bridging experience for bringing new teachers into the district? If there is ANY cheating of new teachers by not bridging ALL their experience, then any claim of wanting to be "competitive" and attract top quality faculty is, well, something less than honest.
Bob October 04, 2012 at 05:36 AM
Pleease define "fair" compensation as a proportion of district revenues, Dramajoy. If that proportion is greater than 95% it is not sustainable and would eventually put the childrens' quality of education and useful programs, art, music and athletics at risk. Your argument that 124 should pay the same as neighboring districts is a specious one, as the ability of neighboring districts to pay is not the same as 124. Your argument is like that of a teenager who demands that Mom and Dad buy a new Mustang for them because the neighbors bought that car for their kids. The teenagers don't care that the neighbors have twice the family income, they just WANT IT and don't care if the family income can support it. It seems the role of the "teenager" in this scenario is being played out by the teachers union. Whether they DESERVE it or not is irrelevant, just like that teenager who gets good grades and does all the right things. It's what part of income can be spent on raises, and that's purely a function of current revenues which cannot support the union demand. Gvei us that proportion of revenues that the union thinks is "fair" TP.
Bob October 04, 2012 at 05:40 AM
Bryan, you pay SOME of the healthcare costs for retirees, but its heavily subsidized by the taxpayers. The cost of family HMO coverage is about $15K per year for a family and about $7K for an individual in a state group. What percentage of that expense are you paying?
Bob October 04, 2012 at 05:48 AM
KB, CPS is a unit district which ibncludes elementary as well as High schools, and unit districts typically pay about 20% more than elementary districts. When you "blend" the 231 and 124 salaries by enrollment, the mean salary for Evergreen Park is about $70K, comparable with Chicago. Is the higher salaries for HS fair? I won't attempt that argument! Here's an idea. Talk the 231 teachers union into forming a unit district and lowering HS salaries and increasing 124 salaries.LOL Good luck with that one!
Bob October 04, 2012 at 06:11 AM
Want to discuss objective measures of student outcomes by comparing Hinsdale 181, the state, and EP 124? Here's the 8th grade "exceeds standards" data from the isbe, the key measure of "superior" instructional programs: Math Hinsdale 181-70.1% exceed standards State Average-31.8% exceed standards EP 124- 28% exceed standards with about 9% less Low income kids than state average Reading Hinsdale 181-32.1 % exceed standards State average-10.1% exceed standards EP 124-5.9% exceed standards The demographics, and economics, of Hinsdale are an invalid comparison with EP of course, but please explain to me how scoring less than state average for exceeding standards in both math and reading, despite having only 39% LI kids compared to state average of 48%, somehow translates into being "superior"? The term "legends in their own minds" somehow seems applicable here...... Finally your statement, "But people, you pay for what you get" is grossly inaccurate in public education, since union distortion of the cost basis of schools disjoints perfomance and cost. Reavis High School District 220 pays a whopping $97K per teacher, yet average ACT scores are a pathetic 19.9, compared to a state average score of 20.6. Adding insult to injury,average teacher experience is only 12.1 years! $35K above average salaries with substandard results! Get what you pay for? NOT IN PUBLIC EDUCATION!
SchoolMom October 04, 2012 at 11:34 AM
Bob - let's get more specific. Compare both middle schools in Hinsdale and EP. Yes, Hinsdale is scoring higher than the state and EP. However, the average teacher salary is $86,000, 5% are low income, and $8,619 is spent on each student. The average teacher salary in EP is $62,875, 35% are low income, and $7100 is spent on each student. What the test scores don't show is that students with special needs are also included in who meets/exceeds. These students are in the regular education classroom (most times), and may or may not have a paraprofessional, therefore making the teacher responsible. 20% of the students in an EP middle school classroom have an IEP, whereas in the Hinsdale middle school only 5% do. So, EP teachers make less money, and essentially have more students to account for. So, before I get mad at teachers, I am going to look at the tax rates. Why am I paying higher taxes and paying out teachers less, especially when they have more to account for? It seems to me the issue with this is our tax rate, not how our taxes are being spent. Isn't it possible that if we paid our teachers and support staff more for the more work they do, we would have higher test scores? It seems to me that your issue might be with the teaching profession as a whole, and not the rate of EP taxes. Would you like to share test scores of our private schools? Oh wait, you can't. They aren't mandated to publicize their scores, nor even take the same tests...
KB October 04, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Bob, You do realize that 124 has 11 times the amount of low income students as Hinsdale, and also 36% more students with IEP’s right?
Bob October 04, 2012 at 01:48 PM
As I said, SchoolMom, trying to compare school outcomes between EP and Hinsdale is a fool's errnd just as would trying to compare real estate values between the two communities. One error you're making is comparing TAX RATES instead of the proportion of revenues coming to the district that's spent on instruction. If it is spending 60-70% of operating expenses on instruction, that's generally considered "fair". I believe EP124 fits into that category. I agree that EP real estate taxes are unreasonable high. I have a property in EP that's about the same assessed value as a home in Palos Park, and my taxes in EP are about 70% higher than Palos. That's because of all the "Sexton TIF"s taking property off teh tax rolls for schools. BTW, you're wrong about private schools not giveing test scores fro comparison, at least at the HS level. Most private HS have all their students take the ACT, and they make their results available for prospective students for making a decision if the school was sufficiently successful for their kids. I wish public school parents were able to make their own choices of public schools without moving! BTW, I appreciate your doing fair research on the facts. That's a rare commodity in the pro-union community!
Bob October 04, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Yes I do, KB, and are you aware that the state has 9% MORE LI kids than EP, yet 124 has far less 8th grade students "exceeding standards" than state average. How curious you chose to avoind that fact. That's why I included the state averages in the comparison. There are just too many differeing factors between Hinsdale and EP to make a comparison with that district.
Bob October 04, 2012 at 03:40 PM
I'm glad I brighten your day with laughter, Dramajoy! I too find it amusing when you use that ridiculous argument that solutions can't come from anyone that isn't part of some small, limited group set up by a demogogue to kill thoughful debate. It's the old, similar argument that unless you're African American, you can't POSSIBLY have any ideas which would make African American's more successful and prosperous! Sorry, that reasoning goes, but unless you're a member of "the community", you couldn't POSSIBLY have any ideas to improve Evergreen Park Schools or determine whether a new sewer system is needed, even if you're an "outsider" teacher or engineer. Dramajoy, you've taken the path of most scoundrels who can't make a logical argument, exclude all that DO from the debate! Won't work, Drama. BTW, it's time you 'fessed up and gave your REAL name and your association with the teachers union. People have a right ot know if you're just shilling for them!
siumom October 04, 2012 at 11:35 PM
SC, the comment of property taxes going up because of teachers' pay is false. This seems to be a rumor that has spread through the community. Taxes WILL NOT be increased because of the teacher's contract.
siumom October 04, 2012 at 11:46 PM
@Taxpaying Parent: T eachers teach children with and without parental support. That is what they do. This was done before the strike in district 124 and will continue after the strike is over.
Lennie Jarratt October 05, 2012 at 02:25 AM
Did the BOE include a tax increase in their budget they just passed? What is the % of the budget that goes to salary & benefits? In most districts it is 70 - 80% and it IS the biggest driver in the levy (tax) increases each year. Will the BOE not raise taxes this year if there is a salary increase?
Concerned October 05, 2012 at 11:22 AM
So taxes won't increase because of this contract, siumom? I would really like to borrow your crystal ball one of these days. Seems to me that my property taxes have already been going up, and the future doesn't look bright. The state of IL is technically bankrupt and Cook County is right behind them. I am not as clear what the tax revenues for the village are forecasted to be (the actuall money brought in to to the town, not the rate in which they were levied) in the coming future. I find it ironic that there have been several mentions by the union that the towns revenues should be higher because of the new development on Western, while I'm sure there are many who are on that picket line who also participated in "If they chop, we won't shop." Just watch CNBC for one day, and you'll begin to understand that the economic future of this whole country is in jeopardy, with forecasts including continued and worsening recession and massive inflation. That's why I support what the board is trying to do which is not to over obligate the town into a contract that is not sustainable in the long run, past the three to four years that everyone is focused on now.

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