Evergreen Park SD 124 teachers reject board’s ‘final’ contract offer
BY STEVE METSCH firstname.lastname@example.org September 25, 2012 5:48PM
Updated: October 27, 2012 6:21AM
One day after setting a strike date for next week, teachers in Evergreen Park School District 124 took a formal vote Tuesday and overwhelmingly rejected what the school board is calling its final contract offer.
After a Monday night negotiating session ended with no progress, the Evergreen Park Federation of Teachers met Tuesday to consider the board’s offer, with members voting 147 to 1 to reject it, union officials said.
“It was no surprise to any of us,” said Dave Comerford, a spokesman for the union. “But the board wanted that clarification. Now they have no doubt the membership will not accept their final offer.”
It’s a final offer that union negotiator Tony Demma said is “not what we’re looking for.”
Earlier Tuesday, the union put out a statement giving their side of Monday’s negotiating session.
In the statement, the union said “the board seems to want to play games, and focus on negotiation tactics.”
The board made a new demand to tie teacher bonuses to student test scores “that had never been discussed before,” the statement said.
And the union claimed a $16 million district financial surplus “had been earmarked for mysterious, unnamed projects.”
Supt. Robert Machak declined to discuss Tuesday’s vote. But he said projects the union referred to are anything but mysterious.
“The capital projects are in the long range planning that was in place before me,” he said. “At Central Junior High, we have 85-year-old pipes that need replacing.”
He said an architectural firm hired by the board had recommended upgrading all the science labs in the district and adding classrooms to replace mobile units, among other projects.
“If we did everything they recommend, it will cost $55 million,” Machak said.
District officials and union representatives plan to return to the bargaining table at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Machak said.
The earliest that teachers could’ve walked out is Friday, but on Monday they set next Tuesday as their strike date.
The school board has offered a four-year contract while the union seeks a three-year deal.
The board is offering pay raises based on the Consumer Price Index, while he teachers want raises of at least 3 percent each year. They oppose the plan to award bonuses based on test scores.