Published Oct 23, 2014
Two-year contract with Dist. 86 teachers approved by split vote
By Ken Knutson
The Hinsdale High School District 86 Board voted 4-3 Monday night to approve a two-year contract with district teachers, averting a strike by the teachers union and ending months of emotional and rancorous debate among board members and residents.
The negotiated deal hews closely to the most recent proposal from the Hinsdale High School Teachers Association, with a base salary of $52,913 the first year, an increase of 3.96 percent over last year.
The contract, approved by the teachers association last week, maintains the 19-year salary schedule, with increases for each year of service and for educational advancement, and also continues the automatic raises in the final four years of employment to boost teachers pension levels.
The board, however, was able to reduce those raises from 6 percent to 3 percent as well as insert a provision that a teacher must be rated as proficient or excellent to advance on the salary schedule.
The tense atmosphere that has characterized recent board meetings was evident again as the board convened in the Hinsdale Central auditorium. Board member Ed Corcoran raised the hackles of some in the audience when, after a one-hour closed session, he amended a motion to vote on the contract asking that it be tabled to allow the public to review it first.
“The community has not seen this contract. There should be time for them to see it,” Corcoran said.
But that idea was rejected, with board member Claudia Manley saying the process has been protracted long enough.
“Kicking the can down the road one week, to me, serves no purpose,” she remarked, joining colleagues Kay Gallo, Mike Kuhn and Jennifer Planson to oppose the postponement, eliciting cheers from the audience.
Gallo, Kuhn, Planson and Victor Casini then voted in favor of the contract, with Corcoran, Manley and board President Richard Skoda dissenting.
Casini, who helped the hammer out the deal with Gallo after the two replaced Corcoran and Skoda as lead negotiators earlier this month, said his vote was not to be viewed as an endorsement for either side and stressed the importance educating the public about “the true financial health of the district” going forward.
“By sharing this information with the teachers, it is my hope that the district and teachers will work collaboratively to make reasonable changes that are necessary to sustain” the district.
In a statement released after the vote, Jeff Waterman, chief negotiator for the teachers, said the board’s approval brought a close to “the most contentious negotiation in my memory” and said the board had been successful in extracting concessions.
“The school board met many of their goals in their negotiation, including pension reforms, reduced health-care costs, and structural changes to the salary schedule,” Waterman stated.
DuPage County Commissioner Gary Grasso, whose six children attended Hinsdale Central, addressed the board during public comment to advocate the convening of a citizens’ group to help identify lasting solutions over the next two years.
“With our combined resources, we should be able to figure out what is good for the school district financially and in the long term,” he said.
Board member Mike Kuhn said the flat levy passed last December set an adversarial backdrop for negotiations and called for healing to now begin in the community.
“Let’s start to mend some of the separation that (levy decision) has produced,” he said.
The contract is retroactive to July 1 and is in effect until June 30, 2016.
By the numbers
Here are the highlights of the two-year contract finalized this week between District 86 and the teachers association.
Base salary: ................................... $52,913
Top salary: .................................. $129,035
Salary increase over previous contract: 3.96 percent for the first year, 5.01 percent average yearly increase over 19-year salary schedule
Employee health insurance: contributions to premiums increased from 12 percent last year to 15 percent this year and 18 percent in the second year, new spousal contribution of $25 for those with access to insurance from another employer
Automatic retirement incentives: reduced from 6 percent to 3 percent the last four years before retirement