Wildcat Chronicle

Teachers’ Association’s forum answers community’s questions about contract negotiations

English teacher Mark Begovich (second from the right) answers a parent’s question during the Q&A. The West Chicago Teachers’ Association held a community forum at the American Legion on Nov. 2.

By Mayeli Vivaldo, Editor in Chief

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The West Chicago Teachers’ Association presented the severity of the teacher contract issues to attendees at a community forum at the American Legion on Nov. 2.

Students, community members, and parents attended the event.

“I needed to come tonight because I wanted to show my support for the teachers and I’m hoping to get some of my personal questions answered,” senior Kate Bove said. “I’m here to understand all sides and how they are working together.”

A former student also attended the event.

“I’m here to find out more about what’s going on with the teachers and the contracts. It has compromised some of the clubs at our school,” alumni Sarah Krysinski said. “That really upsets me because there are some clubs that I was a part of. I want to get some questions answered and know what the next steps are.”

At the event, president of the Teachers’ Association Brad Larson gave a presentation about the current teacher contract issue.

“We want to do everything possible to come to a reasonable and fair resolution. Our goal is to settle a contract,” Larson said.

In the presentation, Larson explained that the Teachers’ Association has been negotiating with the Board of Education for around 19 months due to several disagreements.

“The Board and the Teachers’ Association have yet to come to an agreement on anything. There are no tentative agreements on any issue at this point,” he said.

Larson said that the proposals made by the Board of Education were harmful to teachers and students.

“Teachers would suffer an overall decrease in their compensation. Under their proposal, every year, teachers would take home less and less money,” Larson explained.

According to Larson, the proposals would hurt new teachers especially.

“For newly hired teachers, the Board has proposed a salary structure that would leave them earning less money every year they stay in the district,” Larson said. “The reason for that is because of the two-tier employee system by which they contribute even less to new teachers’ insurance and benefits.”

He also explained that the Teachers’ Association’s offers have not been acknowledged or considered by the Board of Education.

Larson also said the actions taken by the Board of Education to fix the budget problem that exists have affected students negatively. The proposals the Board of Education has offered, according to Larson, would continue to do this.

“Their practice and decision is to scrimp and cut and try to make due. The Board has decided to not adopt certain textbooks, to stop purchasing texts that students use in their English classes, to stop providing as much variety of paper that has been available in the past,” Larson said. “All of the things that have been cut were of value to the students.”

As a consequence of the various negative factors that would affect both new teachers and students, the quality of the school would also be affected Larson said.

“The one thing that everyone should take away from here is that the Board’s proposal, based on the effect it would on teacher’s willingness to stay in the district, would damage the program the district can offer,” Larson said. “It would harm the students and the community. It would reduce the quality of the school.”

According to Larson, the Association will meet on Wednesday with the Board of Education and a federal mediator.

After the presentation, the attendees broke up into two groups for a Q&A.

According to Larson, the Association does not have another community forum planned, but they are considering holding another one.

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Teachers’ Association’s forum answers community’s questions about contract negotiations