Movement in Hinsdale District 86 teacher contract negotiations

hinsdale district 86
Teachers outside Hinsdale South High School on June 2 | Kimberly Fornek/Sun-Times Media

Whether it was the call for teacher and School Board representatives to lock themselves in a room and not come out until an agreement has been reached, or the possibility of hearing from voters via a referendum, the logjam in contract negotiations in Hinsdale High School District 86 seems to have broken.

“The deal is within reach,” board President Richard Skoda said Thursday.

“We are offering the teachers their salary schedule with increases for all staff well-above (the consumer price index),” Skoda said.

On Wednesday, Hinsdale High School Teachers Association spokesman Michael Palmquist also indicated movement.

“The teachers are currently evaluating the board’s proposal,” Palmquist said. “While the board has offered something called a salary schedule, we are busy determining whether it is a schedule competitive with districts around us.”

The frequency of negotiating sessions increased in the past week, with officials from each side meeting Friday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Skoda said. Both sides report the meetings were productive.

“We met with the mediator on Tuesday for five hours,” Skoda said, “and again on Wednesday, for two and a half hours with the mediator, and (another) half hour with our team and their team — no lawyers, no mediator. All conversations have been cordial and productive.”

The negotiating teams are not scheduled to meet before the Aug. 18 School Board meeting, Skoda said.

“The board and especially our administration had hoped and still hope to ink this deal prior to the first day of school,” he said, which for freshmen is Aug. 19 and for all students is Aug. 22.

“The meetings were productive,” Palmquist confirmed.

The biggest change from the previous proposals may be the district willing to continue some form of salary schedule, which gives annual raises for each of the first 19 or 20 years a teacher or certified member of the staff works in the district, plus increased pay for advanced education. The board wanted to eliminate such a schedule, because any raises agreed to in the teachers’ contract are in addition to those step and lane pay bumps.

“Teachers told us over and over again they needed step and lane,” Skoda said Tuesday night.

The School Board met in executive session for four hours Monday evening and for three hours Tuesday night, Skoda said. Board members report they discussed issues productively and agreed on the offer they made to the union.

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