Thursday, September 24, 2015

District 23 Teachers and Support Staff Reject Best and Final Offer from School Board

Today, striking teachers in Prospect Heights District 23 -- the Prospect Heights Education Association -- have rejected the school board "best and final" offer.

Teachers are meeting with the school district tonight at 6:00 p.m.

Union President Bob Miller said the vote, taken by the 150 teachers Thursday morning, was rejected by an "overwhelming" margin, but did not give specific numbers.

"It was a very emotional meeting," Miller wrote. "Every (Prospect Heights Educational Association) member wants to get back to school with our students. However, the offer was inadequate in meeting our primary goals."

Miller said the board's offer does not do enough to move committee work outside of the school day, which he says means teachers are pulled out of the classroom too often. The offer also caps educational advancement and limits what educators can make for getting advanced degrees.

Miller has said that the teachers are concerned about low salaries compared to other neighboring school districts. Miller said the board's financial offer was "closer to an acceptable settlement" but he said it is still "inadequate in closing the wage gap with surrounding districts."

The Prospect Heights Education Association website reports that the District 23 has the lowest maximum salary of $90,000 compared to District 25 (Arlington Heights) at $107,263 and District 34 (Glenview) at $117,824.

The teachers are also concerned about low teacher retention of only 80 percent.

School board President Mari-Lynn Peters said Wednesday night that the board was done negotiating and that she was unsure what would happen if the union did not accept this final offer.

"We continue to say to this Board, we are willing to meet, we are ready to meet, even in a public forum. We want to put this behind us and get kids back in the classroom. But, we need the Board to negotiate with a commitment to a fair settlement without preconditions," Miller said.

The District 23 teachers and educational support staff strike covered by the collective bargaining began September 16, 2015.

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