Hinsdale District 86 negotiation team offers salary schedule, not automatic raises

(L-R): Victor Casini, Richard Skoda, Supt. Bruce Law and Edward Corcoran | Kimberly Fornek/Sun-Times Media
(L-R): Victor Casini, Richard Skoda, Supt. Bruce Law and Edward Corcoran | Kimberly Fornek/Sun-Times Media

The Hinsdale High School District 86 Board modified its proposal to the district teachers Tuesday to include a salary schedule.

The board’s negotiating team made “a very significant offer,” said board President Richard Skoda.

“It’s significant and comprehensive.”

The two sides were scheduled to resume negotiating at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Skoda said.

Representatives of the Hinsdale High School Teachers Association told the district they needed to have automatic increases related to steps and lanes.

In previous contracts, District 86 teachers, like most teachers in Illinois, received annual raises for each of the first 19 or so years they work in the district. With advanced education, teachers received additional pay hikes. The board had proposed eliminating that schedule.

“Teachers told us over and over again they needed step and lane,” Skoda said. “We wanted to find a way to get past that.” The proposal also offered raises greater than the cost of living, Skoda said after a specially called board meeting.

The agenda for Tuesday’s meeting included discussion of a possible referendum asking citizens whether they wanted to continue teacher salary schedules. In light of the revised offer, the School Board chose not to discuss that topic.

The board did discuss the idea of an advisory referendum asking whether district teachers and other certified staff should receive 6 percent raises in each of the four years prior to retirement.

School Board member Edward Corcoran again urged the board to take that course. “I view pension spiking as a local problem that can be eliminated locally,” Corcoran said. The decision to boost pensions is one that future generations will have to pay for, Corcoran said.

Board members Victor Casini and Jennifer Planson said their thoughts on whether to have a referendum on pension incentives depend on how the collective bargaining with the teachers’ union proceeds. But Planson said the community elected the board members to make such decisions.

“I have a problem with putting these decisions out to the public,” Planson said. “They elected us to do a job.” If the community disagrees with the action the board takes, people will voice their opinions via emails, at School Board meetings and at the polls when the board members are up for re-election, Planson said.

The board got an earful from several people who do not want the district to put referendums about teacher salaries and pensions on the ballot. “I have never heard of a more ridiculous proposal,” said John Czerwiec of Clarendon Hills.

He assured the board he is not only a Republican, but one who is involved in independent conservative organizations. “I’m about as red a voter as you can get,” Czerwiec said. He is pro-life and supports gun owners’ rights and small, but effective government.

Czerwiec said he does not appreciate the board publicizing that the district cannot handle “normal negotiations” or “normal taxes.” “It is disgusting and incredibly insulting. This is not a game,” Czerwiec said.

Parent Laura Draper identified herself as a Democrat, but she, too, criticized the board for considering the referendums. “You are negligent if you put this referendum on,” Draper said.

She said she was appalled the board would want to tamper with the education system in District 86. “I am a person who believes we pay for the services we get,” Draper said. “This is a district that can afford it. Look at the houses we live in.”

Darien resident Roger Kempa spoke in favor of asking the community’s opinion via a referendum.

After an executive session, the board reconvened in open session and voted unanimously to table the resolution for an advisory referendum until the Aug. 18 School Board meeting. Board members Kay Gallo and Claudia Manley were not at the Aug. 12 meeting.

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