Referendum Talk: The Truth About D86 Teacher Contract—Part 1

Recently, the motivation of D86 teachers regarding the referendum has been called into question. A small group of individuals, some of whom don’t even live in the district, have spread divisive falsehoods to advance their anti-teacher, anti-student, anti-public school agenda in opposition to the referendum. Their claims about teacher bargaining practices just don’t hold up to the actual facts.

First, in every contract negotiation, teachers have worked with the district’s fiscal priorities. In fact, teachers have made repeated concessions to meet these fiscal priorities.

Teachers have repeatedly enacted health plan benefits changes, increased out-of-pocket and deductible charges, and increased prescription drug copayments to address rising costs to the district.

Teachers have also repeatedly agreed to salary concessions, accepting a pay freeze in the 2012-13 school year and 2017-18 school year, and agreeing to no step-salary advancement in 2016-17 school year to address district fiscal priorities.

In fact, comparisons with peer districts show D86 teacher contracts have gone above and beyond to stay within district fiscal priorities. The comparison group below is made up of districts that are open-enrollment public high school districts (rather than selective enrollment or community unit school districts that include elementary schools) with similar performance to Hinsdale D86.

When comparing the eight-year average percentage contract increase (base salary), Hinsdale D86 has realized the lowest increase among peer districts:

2.84% Riverside-Brookfield 208

1.74% Northfield Township 225

1.69% Hersey 214

1.67% Maine Township 207

1.64% Niles Township 219

1.52% Downers Grove 99

1.38% New Trier 203

1.29% Lyons Township 204

1.22% Stevenson 125

1.18% Oak Park River Forest 200

1.14% Hinsdale Township 86

Contrary to what some opposing the referendum claim, the reality for teachers in D86 is that teacher contracts have not kept pace with inflation for the last decade. In order to work within the district’s financial priorities, teachers have accepted salary schedule increases totalling 12.26% over the same ten year period in which inflation increased 15.20%, outpacing contractual raises by almost three-percent.

People who claim otherwise just want to spread falsehoods and division, scapegoating teacher contracts for the current financial mess some from their own group caused before they were voted out of office by two-to-one margins.  Their intention is to cause any referendum to fail. The fact is, law prohibits funds from this referendum to be used for anything other than  “the projects identified in the proposition. If the final cost for all projects came in under $139.8 million, the District could abate back to the taxpayers any extra dollars. The District cannot use the money to add staff or to increase salaries or benefits.

As teachers we see the need for the referendum everyday. We teach in classrooms that are worn out, sub-standard, out of date, and inaccessible. We are the club sponsors and coaches who see our district’s facilities falling further and further behind our peer districts whose communities pass referendum after referendum after referendum, investing in their school facilities. We know it is not the teachers’ contract holding back our district and threatening our tradition of excellence. It’s the lack of investing in our schools the April 2nd referendum would remedy.