Hinsdale District 86 officials say they made concessions, not regression

The District 86 School Board says the teachers’ union’s claim the board used regressive bargaining in negotiations over a new contract is false.

Rather than reduce the benefits proposed, the School Board said in a news release, it has offered to pay teachers more for having a master’s degree.

When a teacher has a master’s degree, he or she now receives a stipend of $1,000 every year. If the teacher gets a second master’s degree, the stipend goes up to $2,000. If a teacher also goes through the process to become National Board Certified, he or she receives a bonus of $3,000 every year.

Board officials said July 31 they offered to pay teachers with a master’s degree in their content area a bonus of $2,000.

“The board’s new offer also allows the annual stipend to grow to $4,000, rather than $3,000 under the prior contract,” board members said in a statement.

The board also said it has proposed phasing in the increased cost of health care for employees’ spouses.

The School Board announced over the four years of the proposed contract, the cost of insurance for the employee’s spouse would rise by $25 each year from $150 a month in the first year, to $225 monthly in the fourth year.

The board’s previous proposal was for employees to pay $200 a month for medical insurance for their spouse in all four years of the proposed agreement.

Under the previous contract, employees paid $181 a month for coverage of the whole family in a PPO insurance plan.

Board negotiators said they are proposing the cost of health insurance for an employee, spouse and children in the PPO plan rise to about $500 a month.

The board’s proposal would add an HMO and HSA to the employees’ choice of insurance plans. Full spouse and family coverage in the HSA or HMO plan would be only $150 per month. Employees would pay nothing for individual coverage under the HSA or HMO plan.

“The district has made a number of real concessions to an already fair offer and at no time was there regressive bargaining,” board officials said July 31.

“Fears of a mass exodus (of teachers) and lack of interest in employment are both untrue,” board officials said. “Turnover is low. A multitude of excellent candidates are available for each position in District 86.”

The Hinsdale High School Teachers Association was mum about the details of negotiations until this week, when it reported that the School Board negotiation team on July 29 revised its proposal so that teachers and other members would pay more for health care than in the previous offer. The board also said it asked the union to rescind its strike authorization vote, and would in turn eliminate a lockout from the board options as negotiations continue.

Michael Palmquist, association spokesman, said no other changes in the financial terms of the contract were proposed.

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