With no agreement yet between the District 65 School Board and the District Educators Council (DEC, the teachers union), the parties were scheduled to resume negotiations today, Oct. 5, with a federal mediator.
The DEC contract expired in late August, but teachers and other members of DEC are being compensated according to a clause in that contract.
On Sept. 26, District 65 Board President Candance Chow and Superintendent Paul Goren sent a letter to “District 65 Colleagues and Friends” that described the process so far and reaffirmed the District’s “steadfast commitment to support our teachers and reach the best contract possible.”
The letter also described the “significant deficits” that the District projects it will be facing in the next few years, starting at $4.5 million next year and potentially reaching $10 million by 2020 – even without considering threats from the State. The threats from the State could put an additional $3 million burden on the District next year, and up to an additional $13.7 million in school year 2020-21.
Attached to the District letter were answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs), such as the issues remaining to be resolved, what the District has done so far to reduce deficits, and whether there could be a teachers’ strike.
A few days later, DEC sent a list of FAQs and answers, which included the negotiations timeline; information on teachers’ and administrators’ salaries, raises, and other benefits; and the amount of money the District has spent on outside consultants since 2013.
Board President Candance Chow told the RoundTable, “We are very optimistic about engaging in our first negotiation session with a federal mediator [on Oct. 5]. We also have two additional mediation sessions scheduled for next week to continue on this work with our DEC colleagues. We know the work at hand will be challenging but are confident that a fair resolution is possible for all parties.”
The role of the federal mediator is to bring the parties to a mutual agreement on a voluntary basis. The mediator’s recommendations are non-binding.