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Article updated: 11/26/2012 11:12 PM

Crowds again address Dist. 300 school board

By Larissa Chinwah

Students, teachers and parents caught in the middle of contract negotiations between the district school board and its teachers union again bombarded the school board during public comments at Monday's school board meeting.

While the turnout failed to reach the numbers that descended upon a board meeting earlier this month, more than 200 audience members packed into the board room and hallway at Westfield Community School in Algonquin. Almost a dozen people addressed the board.

Isabella Romano, a student at Dundee-Crown High School, said the district could learn a thing or two from the most profitable corporations and would rank subpar in the areas of customer service and providing a quality product. The district, Romano said, is struggling to retain quality teachers because of below average salaries, and large class sizes impair students' abilities to succeed.

In addition, Mary McNicholas, also a junior at Dundee-Crown High School, said class sizes were an "obstacle to learning" that cause students to speak out.

Mike York, a third-grade teacher at Hampshire Middle School, said the protracted negotiations had caused dissension and animosity toward the administration.

"The degradation of the learning environment needs to come to a stop," York said.

LEAD 300, the district's teachers union, declared an impasse earlier this month, effectively starting the countdown toward a potential strike. Based on timelines set out by state statute, the earliest teachers can strike is Tuesday, Dec. 4.

Board spokesman Joe Stevens said the two side will meet again Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss financial issues on which the two sides are still far apart, including salaries, retirement, benefits and teacher certification. The final offers can be found on the Illinois Education Labor Review Board website.

The district has also released information on emergency attendance centers that will be operating if teachers do go on strike. In a message to parents, Superintendent Michael Bregy said if teachers strike, emergency attendance centers are planned at Carpentersville, Dundee, Hampshire middle schools. These sites were selected due to building size and location, according to an informational letter posted on the district's website. The centers will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and regular middle school breakfast and lunch menus will be available. The deadline to register a child for the emergency attendance centers is 3 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 29.

Details and registration forms are on the district's website, d300.org. Children who are not registered will not be allowed to attend.

A strike has not been announced. Transportation will not be provided to emergency attendance centers, and students will need to be dropped off and picked up each day. For the safety of children, the district will require identification before signing out a child.

All athletic, after-school and academic programs will be canceled during a strike. In addition, special education services will not be provided during this time. A decision as to whether academic days will be made up is yet to be determined, the district said.

For details, visit d300.org/news/message-dr-bregy-superintendent-schools.

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