Hinsdale District 86 discusses referendum on teacher salaries and pensions

The Hinsdale High School District 86 Board is considering asking residents to weigh in on the salary issues that it is wrestling with in teacher contract negotiations via a referendum.

At Tuesday’s School Board meeting, board member Edward Corcoran said he would like to have a referendum on the November ballot asking voters whether they support boosting teachers’ salaries at the end of their careers in order to raise the pension they will collect when they retire.

Called pension spiking by some and retirement incentives by others, the state allows school districts to raise teachers and administrators salary up to 6 percent in each of the last four years they work.

It’s a passionate issue and one that will be passed on to their children, part of Illinois’ unfunded pension liability, Corcoran said.

School Board President Richard Skoda said the board could put other referendums on the ballot, such as whether voters want to continue the teacher salary schedule which gives automatic raises each of the first 20 or so years a teacher works in the district, and salary increases for additional education.

The new contract the board proposed to the Hinsdale High School Teachers Association eliminates the salary schedule and replaces it with raises tied to the consumer price index and bonuses based on evaluations of a teacher’s performance.

Board member Kay Gallo asked if putting the questions on the ballot would mean settling the teacher contract be postponed until after November.

Skoda said he was not in favor of postponing negotiations, and the board “from Day One has been committed to getting a deal done,” and reaching agreement with the teachers’ union.

Board member Claudia Manley said she is willing to ask voters their opinion via the ballot. It’s very democratic, she said.

But board member Michael Kuhn was opposed to the idea because the board should not use a referendum to negotiate a teachers contract, he said.

Gallo and board member Jennifer Planson both said they want more information about the idea before deciding.

Gallo said she wants the district’s lawyer to attend the next meeting so she can ask questions, when they continue the discussion.

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