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Article updated: 10/23/2012 4:40 PM

Grayslake District 46 contract offer to teachers made public

By Bob Susnjara

Grayslake Elementary District 46 has made public a one-year contract offer to teachers that would include a salary freeze.

District 46 recently posted on its website what officials say is the last, best offer because contract talks are at an impasse. The district's move came after teachers last week voted overwhelmingly in favor of authorizing union leaders to call a strike, if necessary, in the wake of the stalled negotiations.

Both sides have forwarded final, best offers as required to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board. The agency eventually will post them on its website.

Jim Pergander, a Lake County Federation of Teachers business agent, said his side will wait for the educational labor relations board to make public on its website the documents from the district and union at the same time, likely by week's end. He said District 46 can use its website to "spin" its side of the offer.

But District 46 board President Ray Millington said Tuesday there was no intent to put the offer on the website prematurely. He said it went up on District 46's site with the understanding the state would post it simultaneously.

District 46 documents show a salary freeze would be part of a one-year contract. There also wouldn't be any raises for length of time on the job or additional academic credentials.

All stipends for extracurricular and supervisory duties would be frozen, according to District 46's offer to the teachers.

"Given the reduction in state and federal aid, and the limitations on the board's ability to generate tax revenue, the board has no other sources from which to generate the additional revenue needed to pay its increasing costs, including the salary and other compensation demands of the teachers," District 46 says.

Teachers received $1,100 bonuses paid to them from federal stimulus funds in the 2010-11 school season, which meant "they actually made more money that year than they originally negotiated," according to District 46.

In 2010-11, the teachers union reworked the final year of a deal by taking 2.75 percent base raises -- instead of a scheduled 4 percent -- to help the district bridge what at the time had been a $2.3 million budget gap.

Teachers received a contract extension to 2011-12 that included raises of about 4 percent. The contract expired June 30, 2012.

Along with salaries and benefits, Pergander said a point of contention is the district's attempt to end 6 percent annual base salary raises over the final four years of employment for teachers who give their retirement notices. Instead, the district wants to limit retiring teachers to 5 percent annual raises in their final three years of work.

Both sides are supposed to resume negotiations with assistance from a federal mediator Oct. 30, Pergander said. Contract talks also are expected that day for about 140 members of a separate union who are not teachers, he added.

Documents filed by District 46 say a reduction of $1.45 million in general state aid is forecast for the 2012-13 academic year, along with a decline in federal grant revenue. In September, the board adopted a new $49.1 million budget with a $1.2 million deficit.

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