School district demands teachers union pay sizable 20-year-old debt
By Jim Hagerty
Rockford Public School District 205 has issued an invoice to the local teachers union, calling for repayment of a 20-year-old debt of more than $680,000.
The debt centers on unpaid reimbursements of district funds used to pay base salaries of Rockford Education Association (REA) vice presidents.
According to the district, reimbursements, totaling $680,337, have gone unpaid since 1991.
The district issued the invoice earlier this month. The REA reportedly sent a written response to the administration stating it owed District 205 nothing.
The Rock River Times attempted to obtain a copy of the written response, but was unable to speak to an official who could release it.
According to a report in the local daily, District 205 Chief Communications Officer Mark Bonne said the attempt to collect the debt was not made to spark labor talks or rattle the union.
The district, Bonne said, is searching for ways to create cash flow to help knock down an end-of-fiscal-year deficit of more than $20 million.
According to the agreement the district has with the union, District 205 pays the salaries of the REA president and vice president. Both positions are filled by teachers who are released from their respective classrooms to serve the union full-time.
The district funds the salaries to allow the REA top officers to fund their pensions as District 205 employees.
The REA vice president, this year, earned $76,670.
The district is planning to send the invoice to collections if not paid by Jan. 2, 2011.
The Rock River Times will have more coverage on this story as it develops.
If copies of the invoice and written responses from the teachers union cannot be obtained, attempts to have them furnished through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) will be made.
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