Palatine Township Elementary District 15 community members and even legislators voiced mostly negative opinions Wednesday about the 10-year contract board members recently approved with the district's teachers union.
A legislative aide for state Sen. Matt Murphy, whose district covers District 15, read a letter from Murphy and state Rep. Tom Morrison that shared their "disappointment" with the "unprecedented" contract.
"We appreciate the board's stated goal of planning out future expenses to save money," said the letter read by legislative aide Alicia Krippinger. "However, locking the district, area taxpayers and future school boards into a 10-year labor contract is not the way to proceed."
The letter stresses that the length of the deal and end-of-career benefits for teachers included in the contract could put taxpayers "on the hook for greater costs" depending on legislation passed during the contract's duration.
While a majority of the 15 people who commented at Wednesday's board meeting spoke against the contract's length and terms, two people whose children have attended or currently attend District 15 schools applauded the deal.
"I disagree with the negative comments," Sharon Branch said. "As a parent, I am really pleased with what the board is trying to do."
Branch added that her neighbors are also "very excited and hopeful and optimistic" about the contract and the district's recent proposal to build two new schools.
Rolling Meadows resident Ed Booth and several other people raised concerns that the interests of people who pay taxes to District 15 were not represented in the contract's negotiations.
Booth says it was important to show up to Wednesday's meeting and voice his opinions even though the contract has already been approved.
"Just as the board laid the foundation that brought us here years ago, we need to start laying the foundation and go forward in an attempt to bring fairness for all sides," Booth said.
Superintendent Scott Thompson said the board wasn't trying to be "callous toward taxpayers" but thinks people need to look at the long-term picture.
He says District 15 is trying to expedite the process of finalizing the teachers agreement and expects to make it public in the "next couple weeks."