The teachers union have filed a strike notice against the district. This latest turn of events took place on March 16 after the teachers and school district were unable to reach an agreement during a third attempt at mediation on March 7.
Lynn Moynihan, union president of the Teachers Organization of Palisades said the district's representation presented teachers with two offers the evening of March 7, which previously had been rejected.
"We had presented four different proposals [to the board,] none of which the board worked off of," said Moynihan during Monday night's school board meeting.
The teachers have been working without a contract since last September.
Two sticking points in the negotiations are the percentage of salary increase and the length of the school day for teachers at .
The teachers are asking for an increase between 4 and 6 percent for each of the next four years (depending on inflation,) while the district is offering a 2.5 percent increase for each of the next four years, with a 10 percent bump in what the district is currently paying for single coverage health insurance.
"The board’s offer is tied to the Consumer Price Index, which sets the district’s levy and property taxes. We guarantee at 2 ½ percent, but if the CPI is up to 3.75 then that would become the additional raise," said Superintendent Tom Schneider.
Schneider pointed out that the district is anticipating a deficit of $800,000 in the budget, due in part to the possibility that Impact Aid to the district will be eliminated. He said this is influencing how much the board can negotiate.
The President's budget for Fiscal Year 2013 has eliminated Impact Aid funds, which amounts to $400,000 for District 180. The district has been asking residents to contact Judy Biggert and other legislators to convince congress to keep funding Impact Aid.
Impact Aid is a national program that helps school districts that have within their boundaries large parcels of land that are owned by the federal government and thus, do not pay taxes to the school district. District 180 was receiving Impact Aid for Argonne National Labs.
The teachers said they had made a proposal taking into account the fact that Impact Aid funds might be cut, and that the board's offer is still low for DuPage County, especially under the new contract.
"We are being asked to work additional time with this new contract," said Kristen Drain, TOP vice president and a kindergarten teacher at Anne M. Jeans, referring to an extra 20 minutes that would be added onto the school day of the elementary school.
Schneider said that the 20 minutes would equalize the workday for both schools and improve student achievement.
"Charter schools are able to show amazing growth with their students because they can expand the amount of time students receive instruction," said Schneider.
Char Wenc, a former school board member and current faculty member of the district asked what the base salary was for teachers in comparable districts.
"In relationship to districts that our similar to ours, they are fairly paid," said Paula Dupont, board president, who said the board surveyed all schools within a five-mile radius to determine a fair salary offer. "We don’t feel [District 180] is comparable to and . We're much more [socioeconomically] similar five miles in the other direction ... We're not downtown Hinsdale."
The next mediation session between representatives of the district and teachers union is scheduled for April 26, which Moynihan said is unacceptable. Moynihan said that if the school board does not move the date up, the next step would be for both sides to submit their final offers and for the teachers to go on strike.
According to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, a strike can not happen until two weeks after both sides have presented final offers.
Dupont said the school board already had presented its best offer.
"We think we have a very fair offer on the table that works with monies we know we can commit to, that won’t take away from the current programs that we have and the staffing levels that we have. Promising anything more puts those things at risk," said Dupont.