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updated: 6/6/2013 12:04 AM

District 15 to defer schedule change until arbitrator rules

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The new school year in Palatine Township Elementary District 15 will begin with no scheduling changes, officials said Wednesday.

Superintendent Scott Thompson and Classroom Teachers' Council President Lisa Nuss released a joint statement informing parents of the roughly 12,000 affected students that the implementation of professional development time for teachers will be deferred until the second semester in January 2014.

After months of debate, forums, surveys and a petition, the board last month voted to release students early on Fridays to give teachers training time required under their contract. That option was favored by a vast majority of parents.

The teachers union responded with a labor grievance claiming the district and board violated the terms of the contract by shifting the professional development time they're to be given during the school week. The contract called for a late start option, rather than early release, unless there was "overwhelming opposition by parents."

The district denied the grievance, sending the process into arbitration.

"Since the Board and the CTC have been unable to agree on the time of day for the professional development, this issue will be settled through the arbitration process," Thompson and Nuss said in the statement. "CTC and the District have jointly requested the arbitration timeline be expedited, but it is unlikely that we will achieve final resolution of this matter before the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year."

Thompson said the district and union will share the cost of arbitration, which will be heard by the American Arbitration Association. The district's attorney currently is examining a list of potential arbitrators, he said.

Once both sides agree on an arbitrator, they'll each have the opportunity to present their case and file post-hearing documentation. Thompson said a decision is usually made between 30 and 90 days after that, though "we're hoping to get an answer sooner than that."

According to the statement, the district and union anticipate having information to share on the ruling in October.

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