Hinsdale Teachers Say D86 School Board Canceled Mediation Session

Hinsdale teachers' association sends out statement calling school board presidents' recent “divisive and misleading.” Dist. 86 school board set to meet Monday evening.

Only one more meeting between the Hinsdale High School Teachers Association and Dist. 86 school board -- June 26 -- is scheduled before Hinsdale Central and South teachers’ current contract expires on the last day of the month.

The teachers’ association sent out an email blast over the weekend “Correcting the Record” before the Dist. 86 school board’s scheduled meeting Monday night.

Mike Palmquist, an English teacher at Central and spokesman for the teachers’ association, called recent comments made by D86 board president Richard Skoda “divisive and misleading.”

The teachers’ association’s communique also included timeline detailing their requests and efforts to meet with the board and negotiate a new contract beginning last September. 

Skoda compared the current union, whose members voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike in the fall if a new contract cannot be hammered out, to Karen Lewis and the Chicago Teachers Union. 

According to public statements attributed to Skoda, the board maintains  that the teachers’ association has proposed a 5.45 percent salary increase in the first year “for D86 teachers earning an average annual salary of $110,000.”

The teachers’ association claims that the new board majority -- including Skoda, Victor Casini, Ed Corcoran and Claudia Manley -- “ has delayed meeting, cancelled meetings, and presented incomplete proposals on several occasions.”

Most recently, the teachers say, district board members cancelled the afternoon session with a federal mediator after meeting in the morning on June 10.

“We are disappointed that these practices continue with the cancellation of the first afternoon mediation session followed by Skoda's misleading public statements,” Palmquist proclaimed. “The teachers' association continues to negotiate in good faith despite these practices by the new board majority, eventually requesting mediation to try to come to an agreement.”

According to the teachers’ timeline, the union requested to meet immediately with the school board in September 2013.

At the first meeting of Joint Negotiating Committee on Nov. 12, 2013, the school board requests time to hire an attorney, according to the teachers’ timeline.

The school board canceled a January 2014 meeting due to an attorney’s illness. The teachers’ February timeline details further cancellations by the district bargaining team representations, claiming they weren’t ready.

The Joint Negotiating Committee exchanges proposals and holds focus groups in March to decide upon language in March.

In April, teachers maintain that the school board gives them an incomplete proposal, after the board announces that it has hired its own insurance consultant to review the teachers’ benefits plan.

“Teachers cannot respond to board’s proposal because insurance and compensation beyond

year one are unknown,” the teachers’ association’s  timeline says.

The teachers’ association also claims that school board members cancelled a mediation sessions scheduled for April 29, and that May sessions were cancelled as the negotiating team waited for a mediator to be assigned.

Following a negotiating session on May 27, teachers voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, unleashing a fury of public statements attributed to Dist. 86 school board president, Richard Skoda.

Skoda said the strike authorization vote gave teachers an unfair added edge in negotiations, not unlike the Chicago public school teachers’ strike in fall 2012.

In a letter published in the Hinsdale Doings, a supporter of the teachers’ association accused the board of setting a combative tone with the zero tax levy.

“Now they can take their self-inflicted empty pockets to the teacher’s contract negotiations,” Clarendon Hills resident Paul Pedersen said.   

Similar letters of support for the Hinsdale High School Teachers’ Association pop up in other local press.

Meanwhile, the teachers’ association is hoping for the best as the clock ticks.

“The teachers look forward to the mediation session scheduled for June 26. We are making every effort to ensure that contract negotiations can be settled quickly and fairly to both sides,” .Palmquist says.

The Dist. 86 school board meets at 7 p.m. Monday, June 16,  in the Little Theater at Hinsdale South High School, 7401 S. Clarendon Road, Darien.

It also appears that a special board meeting has been scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 17, in the community room at Hinsdale Central High School, 5500 S Grant Street, Hinsdale.

Linda Burke June 16, 2014 at 05:54 PM
hi all, just in the interest of accuracy, I will fill in the story on Roger Kempa. He is a close crony to the present board majority, having been one of the few people willing to defend the zero levy last fall under his real name. At the December 16, 2013 board meeting, he was especially vocal in support of his political group and their agenda. On March 17, he was hired on a no-bid contract to work as Interim District Treasurer through May 16 at a fee of $750 a day. (Under the present board majority, long-term substitutes in academic subjects work for $257 a day.) Kempa must have worked for 19 days, as he received a total of $14,225 in taxpayer dollars. Pretty good for a 19-day gig. It is unclear what he did to earn his pay except to sleep through board meetings at the administration table, in a manner that raised concern for his well-being. Mr. Kempa has continued to defend his patrons on the board, most recently in a letter to the editor. He is not the only crony hire we have seen under the current majority. Our new $175,000 CFO (who replaced a less expensive business manager) brought on his friend from Kraft Food to serve in the business at $86,000 a year. Extra spending for non-academic purposes by the present majority already totals hundreds of thousands of dollars. All this is happening at a time when we have already made significant cutbacks to teachers and education, with more to follow.
Linda Burke June 16, 2014 at 05:56 PM
oops, of course I meant "to serve in the business OFFICE for $86,000 a year."
Barry Allen June 17, 2014 at 09:29 AM
Linda, any idea what the normal daily rate for someone at that level (school CFO) would be on a consulting basis (not a permanent employee)?
Theresa Phan June 17, 2014 at 12:59 PM
The teachers union is making a big mistake by threatening this strike. They are already very well paid. The vast majority of parents will have no sympathy for them if they decide to strike.
Linda Burke June 17, 2014 at 07:31 PM
Hi Barry. I believe that $750 a day is the going rate for this type of professional hired for an interim position. I think that other D 86 interim employees, e.g. Gerry Yeggy and John Nieween (sp?) were paid the same. But I'm not sure--this would make a good FOIA request. The board majority's hiring of Roger Kempa at that salary, to sleep through board meetings, was such a blatant quid pro quo that even I was surprised by it. Hi Theresa. No one wants the teachers to go on strike, least of all the teachers. Let's not forget that teachers are not alien beings--some of us parents ARE teachers, and many more of us have loved ones who are. There is a lot of misleading "information" out there about teacher compensation. In reality, D 86 has a long history of fiscal conservatism, with per pupil expenditures thousands of dollars lower than our closest academic competition, including New Trier Township. The present board is anti-teacher, not fiscally conservative. They are spending taxpayer dollars like there's no tomorrow on more administrators including crony hires, expensive outside consultants, and perhaps most outrageous, ongoing legal fees related to the Barrett lawsuit. But this posting is already getting too long. It's just that they give me so much material.


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