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District 308 Makes Contract Proposal to Teacher's Union, Union Decides Not to Vote on Proposal

The Oswego Education Association union has been without a contract since June. At issue in negotiations are the length of the high school teacher work day and teachers' salaries throughout the district.

The Oswego District 308 School Board and the Oswego Education Association (OEA) union continue to negotiate a new contract, with working hours for high school teachers and salaries the two main sticking points. 

Teachers have been working without a contract since June 30, and the School Board heard a negotiations update from its attorney, Maureen Lemon and their Monday night meeting.

The District submitted its most recent proposal Nov. 8 and requested the proposal be presented to the entire OEA. The OEA’s bargaining team indicated they needed to have their executive committee review the proposal before deciding whether to submit it to their membership for a vote.

As of late Thursday evening, OEA president Darla Medernach said the OEA had decided not to put the proposal to a vote for their membership.  

"We are trying to find something fair and equitable," she said. "We're still negotiating."

At issue in negotiations is the high schools transition from the block to flex-8 scheduling and how that affects the length of the teacher work day. The new 8-period scheduling keeps teachers in school longer, but has them teaching less each day, said Lemon. Flex-8 creates additional passing periods and a longer lunch for teachers.

The expired contract included a 40-hour work week for all teachers, with 27 hours devoted to student contact time and 13 hours for lunch, preparation and planning. This included five periods of classroom instructional time, one prep period, one supervision period and one duty-free lunch period. The OEA has requested to keep the high school workday as outlined. 

The board had proposed the flexibility to assign teachers six instructional periods with one prep period or five instructional periods with one prep plus one supervision period.

In February, the OEA and district administrators reached a tentative agreement for the high school teachers’ work week and work day for the current school year. The District’s two high schools were staffed for the current year based on this tentative agreement.

Due to the agreement, about 9,000 minutes of daily instructional time had to be covered by additional staff members, said Lemon. The cost of this extra staffing is estimated to be between $900,000 and $1.6 million.

Lemon said the arrangement was made without the board’s approval by previous administrators who have since left the district.

“Logistically it was too late to change for the current school year,” she said.

Board President Bill Walsh said the board honored the tentative agreement for this year, but changes would be needed for the future.

“Because the Board was never made aware of the commitments made by the previous administrators, the negotiations have been prolonged,” he said.

Another point for negotiation is teacher salary. The district had offered, based on a three-year contract, a half-percent salary increase the first year, a 1 percent increase the second year and a 1.5-percent increase the third year along with lane increases.

There would be no salary step increases, said Walsh. However, he added, not advancing a step on the salary schedule has no impact on the teacher’s seniority within the district or the Teacher Retirement System.

For instance, a teacher with five years of service would have eight years of service credits at the end of a three year contract.

“It is important to note, that lane movement is available, which can be obtained through additional post graduate hours,” Walsh said.

Medernach said the OEA has met with the district’s negotiating teams numerous times since January and have met three times in joint meetings with a mediator since October.

She said she had hoped the negotiations would be finalized earlier in the year; however, the process was delayed because new administrators hired by the district in recent months “need(ed) to be caught up to speed.”

Medernach said finding an agreement before winter break would probably be pushing it, but she’s hopeful another meeting will happen soon and said, “Progress is being made.”

At this time no new meetings have been scheduled. 

JimmyJ November 21, 2012 at 06:01 PM
@John....yep your posts sums up a lot more then just your point. I sums up the arrogance of a large segment of this community, The ACT score IS RELEVANT AND IT IS SIGNIFICANT. You say it is required of ALL students not just the college bound. So what you are inferring is that the non college bound students are less intelligent then their college bound counterparts and are dragging down the scores. Man if we could just get rid of the dummies then we would be in great shape. HOW DARE YOU! If the ACT scores are down and EVERYONE takes it then the question really is WHY ARE THE NON COLLEGE BOUND DOING SO POORLY. Yeah lets measure the success on the achievement of a handful and lets turn our backs on those who do not achieve. That attitude is a very good reason why you were VOTED OUT and why you should STAY OUT. My recommendation is that you find the same sewer Colvin found and join him.
Jane Enviere November 21, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Seriously? Yes, it's entirely possible that a segment of the students who are not going onto higher education will not/do not score particularly well on ACTs. Big deal. As if that is shocking? That conveys arrogance? It's reality. Doesn't mean that those individuals will not go on and have successful careers and lives in their own right. Everyone is not going to do well on standardized tests. Everyone is not going to go to college. Everyone will not make it through college. Histrionics and all caps don't change that.
Dave Bucher November 21, 2012 at 07:16 PM
The block system was not on trimesters.
Rachael B. November 21, 2012 at 07:22 PM
John, Concerned Parent GAVE you an answer -- With a multi-million-dollar deficit, there is no money for salary increases. And our low ACT score demonstrates that the teachers aren't doing their jobs of educating our students, so why would they deserve a pay increase?? Every student in every district takes the ACT, so that's no argument for our embarrassingly low average score. Just think . . . for every kid that earns a 30 on the ACT, another scored a 10 to average out to 20.
ConcernedParentAndTaxPayer November 21, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Jane, what is your point? That Oswego has more students that don't take standardized test well than other Districts? It actually IS a big deal that our students don't do as well as other Districts. It limits their college options and opportunity for academic scholarships. Mr Graff, you brag about the 3 million earned in scholarships . . . how much of that was athleteic versus academic? And how much more could have been earned if we actually had more students doing well on the ACT. JimmJ, I guess what Mr. Graff considers to be good government is if we can't afford it, do it anyway and we'll just tax more. I will have to concede that Mr. Graff actually finally made I one valid point . . . that is, this District has a major homes-to-business imbalance. But that imbalance needs to somehow be addressed by the Village thru their take over of the joint public/private Oswego Economic Development Corporation. But we can't ignore the financial facts and just keep taxing people more and more when we arlready do that to a greater extent than any other surrounding Large Unit School District.
JimmyJ November 21, 2012 at 08:44 PM
Well then Jane...how do YOU measure the success of the district. It unfortunately has to be measured. Do you measure it by the scholarships earned by a handful? do you ignore the fact that in order for ACT scores to DROP there needs to be a significant number of students who for one reason or another do not have the background to do well? if they don't have the background, then why is that? Were they not instructed or does the school not provide that area of study? I find it hard to believe that 308 does not offer instruction. So it comes back to the first issue, does the student have to teach themselves or do they have teachers?
JimmyJ November 21, 2012 at 08:50 PM
@ Concerned.....the thing is, the lid is finally coming off. I remember maybe two years ago when Dr. Johnson proclaimed everything was fantastic, then someone did some digging and found that OEHS in particular and OHS too were not doing quite as well as she painted. The attitude seems to be if you have a student who is AP or does well, then the system is great, what the hell are you talking about, you are crazy, the teachers are invincible and let the admin spend every last penny they can get their hands on. If you have a student who struggles you find that not everyone in the district is as caring as they would have you believe.
Jane Enviere November 21, 2012 at 10:37 PM
It's amusing that the people who seem to be the most up in arms about everything have left comments that would require quite a bit of any teacher's red ink to correct. I think that explains quite a bit, honestly.
Dave Ruggles November 21, 2012 at 11:08 PM
So shut the whole thing down. Let's have a vote on whether or not people want to pay any property taxes for their schools. When the majority says they don't just shut down the public schools and everyone fend for yourself. That will solve the problem, won't it.
JimmyJ November 21, 2012 at 11:30 PM
Dave...that's the best idea I have heard yet. Lets have a voucher system.
Jeri November 21, 2012 at 11:36 PM
Dave it might be called vouchers. I would vote 6 months ahead of time because I would be so excited. The easiest thing to do is to teach to the AP students. I actually am not complaining about the district. I truly want to make note that this school district is simply no different than any other district. I do not say anything special about it. My grandmother was correct on all counts...if you do not have the money don't do it. If it is not the full truth do not say it. This district is a place I also want to move from. I will do that also. In the special ed area this district is receiving an incomplete grade from I due to its dishonesty. It should be apparent that it is ran by people therefor realize they are serving people. Tenure is an awful benefit that encourages mediocrity for many. Vouchers will encourage better work performance and some changes in attitudes. I said before there are good and bad teachers, and good and bad employees all over. Our businesses that give our youth employment are just as important as a teacher. Vouchers.......
Jeri November 21, 2012 at 11:44 PM
so Jane how do you measure success like concerned parent asked?
Jeri November 21, 2012 at 11:46 PM
Wow vouchers are being thought of at the same time. Maybe a movement !!!ha ha
Olivia5307 November 24, 2012 at 12:21 AM
TS, I would move out of Oswego tomorrow, if I could only sell my house. How dare I? Test scores prove me right. Why are you so defensive in favor of 308 teachers? Are you one? You're clearly angry -- direct that anger to your school district, not to me.
ayar November 27, 2012 at 07:47 PM
@Walt, while I agree with you on a bunch of points at times, I can see why there are additions to the current High Schools instead of a new one. Two words. Operating costs. We're still expanding in size, and it's a DARN site cheaper to slap another wall up and make more rooms instead of hiring staff, contributing to Management's "healthy" salary, hire a bunch of teachers, support staff, guidance counselors, etc. etc. probably even a couple of on-site police to keep law and order as usual, etc. etc. etc. security staff, etc. $$$$. Heating. Cooling. You're right, though. You can go to school and become an unemployed teacher [many are looking, and the more experienced ones cost more, so they find it tougher to get a job when they're outqualified by "highly experienced first years"]. You can run for the board and have a lot of phone calls from angry annoyed parents while you're trying to make a difference in kid's lives as Mr. Graff tried to do. I pray for the honest hardworking teachers in 308 to get through these times. By the way, off the subject, can *anybody* explain to me what that weird looking symbol next to Lynn Cullick's name was on her voting signs ? :)
Teach-its what we do November 28, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Thank you Mr. Graff for your continued support of teachers and your service to the district. I have taught in this district for 8 years but do not live in the district. My children go to private schools and I would like to share a few comments: 1) The class of 2012 (125 students) at my son's high school earned over 10 million dollars in academic scholarships. The average ACT score was 26 this year. Their teachers earn about 10-20% less than I do (80% have MS or PhD) and they do not have new buildings or the newest computers,but great teachers. 2)In order to maintain rigor, set high expectations for student learning and keep the scholarship money coming -the administration keeps their classroom sizes under 24, students do anywhere from 3-4 hours of HW per night and athletes must go to study sessions after school if their grades are below a D. Keep in mind that in the private HS a D is below a 75%. Yes, I pay tuition but it was worth every dime when my eldest son got a full 4 year scholarship to college last year. No he is not brilliant (ACT=28,GPA=3.75) but he works hard and truly earns his grades. 3) We provide transportation to/from school,brown bag lunch and pay extra for music and sports programs. Parents are financially responsible for extras. D308 could do the same + save MILLIONS. I see buses 1/2 empty, district employees washing the PE towels, and F & R lunches in the garbage. Too much waste! Free education yes...free extras NO. Education yes...extras no.
JimmyJ November 29, 2012 at 01:20 AM
@ Teach....wow!
Jane Enviere November 29, 2012 at 03:39 AM
Out of curiosity, do your children's private schools also have at-risk children, special education students, etc.? In the suburbs, I would hardly be surprised to hear that students at a private school are producing stellar results. They generally have parents who can afford to seek out a private education, and those parents are often well-educated as well as ready, willing and able to support their children's academic efforts. It's apples and oranges to compare a private school with a graduating class of just a tad over 100 with a large public school district. Free and reduced lunches in the garbage or not, that's a legal requirement. It's not like we can cut that. We obviously also cannot legally require that parents transport children to and from school. I applaud your son's accomplishments - that is truly something to celebrate. I just don't think your comparison is relevant. That said, my family has had extremely talented and dedicated classroom teachers. We have been so very lucky. We appreciate all that the D308 teachers do!
JimmyJ November 30, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Well I'm a college drop out, my AGI is $40K and I send the last of my 3 to private school. I'm certainly not rolling in cash. Why do I choose to do it? Because after 6 years in glorious D308 the center for smoke and mirrors I finally had enough. I have it a chance through the end of HS with the other two and once they had to take remedial classes to PASS the Waubonsee entrance exam I decided that I had not found but ONE teacher who gave a rats ass in this district.
JimmyJ November 30, 2012 at 01:25 AM
I would suggest checking out St. Paul Lutheran in Aurora ( near Galena and Orchard) or any of St. Rita ( Old Indian Trail near Highland ) or Our Lady of Good Counsel on the East Side...we checked and visited all of those and they are all very good. They are K-8...St. Paul offers full day K and pre-K. None have bus service so you would have to drive and you woudl need to pack their lunch although I'm not sure about St. Rita, they do have a full kitchen and large lunch room. St. Paul does hot lunch on Fridays ( run by the sports booster group). I'm inclined not to say specifically with of them we choose for privacy reasons but I can say they are all about equal $$ wise and the staff at each of them are outstanding top to bottom. I know if you have an IEP student that St. Paul can partner with the West Aurora district to provide assistance, but you won't need it. Classes are small at all of them and you get way more back then what you pay in. I'm sorry I didn't do it sooner and I'm sorry I may have to come back to 308 for HS. Options at that lever are not as many. Aurora Central Catholic and Aurora Christian School and Marmion and the only choices. All three are much more expensive than the K-8 options.
Greg Nelson November 30, 2012 at 01:28 AM
Private school is the way I went with my children. Aurora Central Catholic has been great at education and that missing thing respect! Both my Children have been in top 20 in class and hold 3.90 and 4.10 GPA how many at public school do this? I'm a product of OHS and frankly I can't see why the system is failing with all the cash they have. Yes it cost $$$ for private and it is a tough choice on cash and family but I have two great top kids and both are far, far ahead of what I have seen from public schools of late. I think the teachers teach but with all the noise of extra's they forget the basics (R's) are the focus. Get back to basics people and save the cash for a rainy day - oh wait it's raining and the cash is gone!
Jeri December 01, 2012 at 05:56 AM
Thank you private education parents...The comparison is stark when it comes to the students and their potential.....I hope Jimmy a path opens for your family. My hind sight is private or vouchers...unless your student is a straight a
TS December 05, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Well, lets see Olivia! They hopefully get a lunch. When would you like them to plan lessons, grade papers, create assessments, make copies, put up bulletin boards, etc etc???? Clueless
JimmyJ December 05, 2012 at 07:11 PM
@TS...so how did teachers manage to do it when we went to school?
JimmyJ December 05, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Type 75 I think it's called. There are several teachers at OHS in particular who were in private business / industry and got a certificate and are now teaching. A couple hope to go back to the private sector.
JimmyJ December 05, 2012 at 07:15 PM
@Reality...you don't need a degree in education to get a teaching certificate. People with building trade skills, foreign language skills and just about anything you can imagine can get a teaching certificate. I forget the website, maybe the State Board of Education? I went there to look up something about certification nd found there are many paths to the classroom other then the standard 4 year BS/BA degree in Ed
TS December 05, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Well Jimmy, I believe it may have been a difficult job then too. Now it's more! Whole group reading, guided reading groups, whole group math, small group math, science soc studies, language, writing, spelling and lets not forget building character, and helping some with self esteem, bullying, social skills, and proper hygiene. Oh and 25 plus kids in a classroom. More and more gets dumped on teachers to teach and do, especially elementary teachers. The judgements on here are unbelievable. If you're going to give the big kids a raise, then you better figure out a way for the little ones doing all the work.
JimmyJ December 05, 2012 at 07:58 PM
@TS...back in the day there were more than 25 kids in a class and no aides. So now 25 is the benchmark and some want fewer and there are aides unless they got rid of those. Seems to be it should be easier not the misery we are supposed to think it is. No weapons in the schools either that we know of except the gun in the GOALclassroom a couple months back. It can always be worse.
Olivia5307 December 05, 2012 at 10:29 PM
Type 75 is an administrator's certification.
JimmyJ December 05, 2012 at 10:37 PM
Olivia..yes that's right. I wasn't sure. The point I was making though is that you don't necessarily need an education degree to be a teacher. From http://www.isbe.state.il.us/certification/html/becoming_teacher.htm " Individuals who already hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university and have related work experience may be interested in one of Illinois’ Alternate Certification Programs. " There are other paths to becoming a teacher.

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