Sep 17 2014

The Teachers’ Proposal & FAQ

Published by under Association News,Negotiations

HHSTA Proposal 9-16The Teachers’ proposal as submitted to the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board

The teachers’ proposal is sustainable:
Using the board’s projections from November of 2013—at the time of the 0% tax levy decision—the teachers’ proposal is more than $1,300,000 dollars below the Board’s projected revenue total for the four years of the contract. The teachers’ proposal is also in line with CPI.

The teachers’ proposal shifts healthcare costs to teachers:
The teachers’ proposal shifts costs to teachers for health insurance. By shifting more of the cost burden to teachers, the district’s health care costs are reduced.

The teachers’ proposal is competitive:
The teachers’ proposed salary schedule and stipend proposals are both in line with competitive districts in the state and ensure that District 86 will be able to attract and retain the best teachers available for the students of our community. The teachers’ proposal does not enhance teacher compensation beyond comparable school districts, but only seeks to keep the district’s competitive advantage in the marketplace.

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Sep 17 2014

How Can You Help?

Published by under Association News

The teachers and the community have been partners in building a tradition of excellence. The new board majority is putting that tradition at risk–not just with their combative negotiating strategy and uncompetitive offer but with many of their other decisions as well.  Please help maintain the quality of the district by being an active part of this important conversation. If you want to help influence what is happening in our high school district, please consider the following:

  1. A community member started a change.org petition to encourage the school board’s negotiating team to end its radical position and accept the teachers’ reasonable offer.  Please sign the petition in support of the teachers’ commitment to maintaining the district’s excellence.
  2. Email the school board in support of the teachers: boe@hinsdale86.org
  3. Attend school board meetings over the next few weeks.  Here’s the calendar.
  4. Share important information from hhsta.org, facebook.com/hhsta.org, and twitter @HHSTAd86, with friends and neighbors.

 

Why Help?
For nearly a year, the teachers of District 86 have tried to negotiate a reasonable, competitive, sustainable offer with the school board. This board majority has proven its priorities are distractions like paying lawyers and contractors rather than securing a fair and sustainable deal for all stakeholders.

  • The Board has offered one of the least competitive salary schedules in the area, including top high school districts.
  • The Board’s offer hurts our ability to attract and retain the best and the brightest teachers, which will directly lower the quality of education our students receive.
  • The Board’s offer jeopardizes the tradition of excellence we know and uphold in District 86.
  • The Board’s impact on the quality of education in the district can negatively impact home values.
  • The Board has continued its radical political agenda in lieu of real negotiations. From paying for a public relations contractor, to spending tens of thousands on glossy mailers, to finding a second contractor to research student residency after a fully-fledged investigation already took place, to calling for a criminal investigation after a local news outlet accidently connected a photo to an article posted on HHSTA’s Facebook page.

The teachers’ offer is reasonable, competitive, and sustainable.  It’s posted here.

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Sep 16 2014

Teachers make their offer public

Published by under Association News

For more than a year, the teachers have been working toward a sustainable, competitive agreement that does what is best for our schools and our students. The most recent proposal was released to the public today.

The teachers’ proposal is sustainable:
Using the board’s projections from November of 2013—at the time of the 0% tax levy decision—the teachers’ proposal is more than $1,300,000 dollars below the Board’s projected revenue total for the four years of the contract. The teachers’ proposal is also in line with CPI.

The teachers’ proposal shifts healthcare costs to teachers:
The teachers’ proposal shifts costs to teachers for health insurance. By shifting more of the cost burden to teachers, the district’s health care costs are reduced.

The teachers’ proposal is competitive:
The teachers’ proposed salary schedule and stipend proposals are both in line with competitive districts in the state and ensure that District 86 will be able to attract and retain the best teachers available for the students of our community. The teachers’ proposal does not enhance teacher compensation beyond comparable school districts, but only seeks to keep the district’s competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Click this link for the HHSTA Proposal 9-16.

The Teachers’ Association is committed to reaching an agreement which will maintain the excellent quality of education this community has come to expect. Dozens of school districts around the state navigate the process of contract negotiations with respect and dignity. Their teachers are not demonized for advocating for themselves. Their community members are not shouted down by school board members at meetings.  Their school board members do not make hollow accusations to intimidate their teachers.

That has not been the case in District 86.

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Sep 15 2014

Without fear of retribution?

Published by under Association News,Board Notes

In an August 22 article, The Hinsdale Doings reported on Skoda’s claim that he is receiving overwhelming support for the board’s extreme proposal. Via a FOIA request, The Doings verified that the board received 127 emails in support and 94 in opposition. Hardly overwhelming, but yes, a “majority.” However, since the names on the emails provided were redacted, there is no way to know how many individuals actually wrote in support of the board.

D86 parent and taxpayer Yvonne Mayer raised questions about the redaction of information from a public document at the Board meeting on Sept. 8th and was shouted down by Skoda, who insisted that the Constitutional right to privacy superseded the FOIA law, as though the two were at odds.

In her response to Skoda’s conveniently inconsistent application of Constitutional rights in defense of his Board’s lack of transparency, Mayer writes:

Dr. Skoda further asserted that the US Constitutional Right to Petition the government without fear of retribution allows for the names of the authors or recipients of letters from Board members to be redacted. With all due respect, the Right To Petition in the US Constitution does not allow for anonymity in the right to petition the government for a “redress of grievances.”

When the board removes information from an email sent to the board, it is censoring public information. The emails delivered to the board are public records–they belong to me, my husband and all members of the D86 community to review. As Dr. Skoda surely knows, the First Amendment prohibits such censorship absent a compelling reason, such as revealing an impending real estate transaction or private information regarding a minor student. The FOIA laws, as I indicated at the meeting, reflect the considered analysis of the various legislatures as to the proper balance between the overwhelming right of the citizenry to see public records against the limited exceptions permitted by the constitution. Under FOIA laws, and the Constitution, which are entirely consistent, the burden is on the government seeking to censor records to find a specific applicable exception. It is not constitutional or permissible under statutory laws to seek implicit exceptions or ad hoc reasons as to why censorships are inappropriate. Dr. Skoda’s invocation of the right to petition is either a red herring or a misunderstanding of the First Amendment.

Of course citizens have the right to petition, as I am doing now. However, there is not a single legal authority that suggests that selected individuals in the government have the right to censor public records if, in their individual and arbitrary judgment, allowing the public access to public records would impair the right to petition the government. If such a right existed, it would be found in the FOIA statutes passed by all states and the federal government which, on their face, prohibit just this type of censorship. As you know, our state is in trouble because it is filled with petty bureaucrats imposing their views on the citizens of Illinois. Tyranny starts small and this is just such small tyranny.

Censoring public information is what Skoda is defending, yet the new board majority of Skoda, Corcoran, Manley and Casini ran on the promise of complete transparency.

The only thing that is transparent is that the board majority wants to protect those who support them and seeks to intimidate those who do not. They are removing teachers from their classrooms in order to investigate a Facebook “like” of a post linked to a news article in opposition to the board. They have treated with extreme disrespect those parents and community members who have questioned or voiced opposition to their actions in public. And, they have continually prevented negotiations from proceeding in a productive manner.

Ignoring FOIA laws and censoring public documents does not promote transparency.  Fear and retribution should not be part of the board’s tactics. Imposing their agenda on a community against its will is wrong. As Mayer wrote, “Tyranny starts small and this is just such small tyranny.”

 

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Sep 15 2014

Hinsdale Teachers Approve Special Assessment

Published by under Negotiations,News,Press Release

Hinsdale teachers approve special assessment

Funds will be used to support a possible strike

HINSDALE – September 15, 2014 – The Hinsdale High School Teachers Association is reporting today that its membership overwhelmingly approved a special assessment to raise almost $40,000 in support of ongoing negotiations.

“The vast majority of our members voted to approve the special assessment,” said John Bowman, President of the teachers association. “Our members understand that we are in an unprecedented situation and that we need the financial flexibility to meet these challenges.”

The vote was held on August 29th.  The funds have been raised and will be used to secure office space and support the numerous logistical requirements of a strike.

The teachers primary concern remains negotiating a competitive agreement that maintains the excellence of the district.

“We have and will continue to do everything we can do avoid a strike,” Bowman said.  “The board would like the community to believe that only the teachers can avoid a strike, but that’s not true. The board has the power to end this by negotiating in good faith.”

The teachers have requested several more mediation sessions.  The board has yet to confirm any dates.

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Sep 15 2014

Overwhelming Community Support Continues

Published by under Association News,Negotiations

The overwhelming community support the teachers are receiving is really heartwarming. Case in point: a community member has created a petition asking for the Board to accept the teachers’ proposal:

We ask that you accept the latest HHSTA contract proposal dated 9/08/14. We believe that this proposal is fair and keeps District 86 competitive with neighboring districts.

While Skoda and Corcoran crow about less than two emails a day, this petition has garnered over 730 supporters just the last few days.

The best part of this outpouring of support is the comments by those signing the petition. Some are directed squarely at the board’s divisive behavior:

Charles Blum OAK BROOK, IL
Had enough of this school board’s Tea Party shenanigans…

Anne Dellamaria DARIEN, IL
The District 86 Board Majority is out of control. They no longer care about our teachers, our children, our community. It’s time they accept the teachers more than fair offer.

Yannis Arvanitis HINSDALE, IL
Stop ‘nickel and diming’ – education is too important and disrupting your community to save us each maybe a few dollars is just plain dumb. Put your personal agendas aside and try to represent your community.

Steven Domiano, MD HINSDALE, IL
I’m shocked and disappointed at the cavalier approach the BOE has taken with the educational well being of our children. They should be ashamed.

Karen Ehlers DARIEN, UNITED STATES
The District 86 Board is failing – you don’t lead with fear – FEAR is a cancer in any business and any organization. D86 BOE needs to do the right thing. This is personal to me, my kids, and to my property value.

But it’s the students who say it best:

Mitchell Gurick DARIEN, IL
As former student body president at Hinsdale Central High School and 2011 alumnus, I support the teachers and fantastic education afforded by our amazing faculty and staff at District 86.

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Sep 14 2014

Skoda Cites Constitution When it Favors Him

Published by under Association News,Board Notes

Mr. Skoda likes to wrap his arguments in absolutes, citing the U.S. Constitution as his reason to redact names from public documents in support of his position. But, when it comes to teachers clicking “Like” on a Facebook link to an article in opposition to his actions, fear and retribution trump the First Amendment.

But therein lies the problem for Mr. Skoda’s convenient application of Constitutional rights–Facebook “Likes” have Constitutional protection:

Judge William Traxler, who authored the decision, said that clicking “Like” is much the same as putting up a political sign supporting a candidate in your front yard:

“Liking a political candidate’s campaign page communicates the user’s approval of the candidate and supports the campaign by associating the user with it. … It is the Internet equivalent of displaying a political sign in one’s front yard, which the Supreme Court has held is substantive speech.”

[...]As commenters on the Mashable story have noted, Facebook “Likes” can be convoluted creatures. In order to continue to see posts appear in our news streams, we need to click “Like”, whether that aligns us with candidates we detest or news we abhor.

But regardless of why we click “Like,” it shouldn’t come back to haunt us. Facebook is now very much an outlet for speech that deserves protection, whether it’s to support a candidate or to follow news about, for example, cancer research.

We follow things. We Like things. We shouldn’t be punished for it.

We wonder what Mr. Skoda thinks about a teacher’s First Amendment rights and why, instead of negotiating, he is more interested in fear and retribution for the teachers that avail themselves of their First Amendment rights.

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