School district releases ‘Myths & Facts’ document regarding contract negotiations
Editor’s note: The following press release was distributed by Rockford Public School District 205 March 13. The release is in response to the Rockford Education Association’s (REA) announcement that it had filed an official notice of intent to strike with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board March 12. The move paves the way for a legal strike to occur at any time after a 10-day waiting period. Click here to read more about the REA’s announcement.
RPS DISTRICT 205 ISSUES A MYTHS & FACTS DOCUMENT TO CORRECT MISINFORMATION ABOUT ITS CONTRACT OFFER TO PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS
ROCKFORD, Ill., March 13, 2012 – Rockford School District 205 today released a Myths & Facts document to correct misinformation about the District’s contract offer to school teachers. The District is currently negotiating a new contract for its approximately 1,800 teachers with the Rockford Education Association, the teachers’ union.
“We are confident that we’ll reach a fair new agreement and we want to make sure that the Rockford community and our teachers can make informed decisions about our offer based on the facts,” said Dr. Robert Willis, Interim Superintendent of the Rockford Public Schools. “That’s why we decided to share some of the information that we have already discussed at the bargaining table and make it available in a user-friendly way.”
Discrepancies featured in the Myths & Facts documents include:
MYTH: The School Board has been unwilling to compromise.
FACT: Actually, it’s the REA that has failed to make many significant compromises on the remaining issues. The District has modified dozens of positions at the bargaining table to try to find middle ground with the REA and reach a fair new agreement. In fact, as a result of the District’s numerous compromises, there have been 22 issues which the parties have been able to reach tentative agreement. As for the remaining issues, the District has modified its positions on several occasions. One example is health care. The District has altered its position considerably on health care issues, including removing the concept of a cap on health care costs, while the REA has moved very little.
MYTH: Teachers are going to have to pay much more per month for their health care benefits.
FACT: Teachers will have to pay the monthly premium. For example, effective July 1, 2012, monthly premiums would increase $25 for an individual and increase $89 for a family. That’s a far cry from the $700 claimed by the REA. Teachers will also continue to be responsible for out-of- pocket expenses and co-pays.
MYTH: The District’s proposal will cut teacher pay.
FACT: The vast majority of teachers will get salary increases ranging from 2.26% to 9.96% during each year of this contract. The District’s proposal does not include any salary reduction for any teachers at any level.
MYTH: The union’s final offer will save more than $9 million.
FACT: Not true. The REA has asked for a 1 percent increase to the base salary ($1.2M) along with the lane and step increases which would be retroactive to July 1, 2011 (about $3M this year and $3M next year). The REA has off-set these additional costs against the budget cuts that occurred in the prior 2 years. The cuts in 2010 and 2011 resulted in the District eliminating programs and consolidating the schools which reduced personnel costs, overhead costs, and transportation costs. These savings are not related to these negotiations. In fact, many students moved to charter schools, which the District is obligated to support financially. As a result of this process, all that has occurred is that the District’s payroll has decreased by $7.1M but its obligation to fund the charter schools has increased to $7.1M in the current fiscal year.
The REA’s assertion that its final offer will save tax payers more than the District’s final offer is simply untrue. Moreover, the District also rejects the REA’s claims that it has gone from 2,012 certified staff in 2010-2011 to 1,733 certified staff in the current school year. The District currently has 1,825 certified staff. This difference of nearly 100 teachers also offsets the REA’s proposed savings.
In contrast to the REA’s proposal, the District’s proposal is aimed at trying to find ways to increase resources in the schools for students while maintaining competitive pay and benefits for the dedicated teaching staff.
For more information on the status of negotiations, please visit www.205teachernegotiations.com.
Posted March 13, 2012
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