Rep. Tom Morrison: bring more "sunshine" to teachers contracts
In light of Palatine Township Elementary District 15's recently approved 10-year teachers contract, a state legislator from Palatine says he is open to pushing for measures that would allow taxpayers more input on public employee contracts.
The teachers contract includes annual average increases of about 2.5 percent for the first four years and about 4 percent for the remaining six years, and has raised concerns among district residents and lawmakers.
"There needs to be more sunshine on these contracts before they become official," state Rep. Tom Morrison said.
At a special board meeting Wednesday night, District 15 resident Len Green said he contacted Morrison this week asking if he would be willing to get the ball rolling on legislation that would require voter approval for any teachers contract that lasts 59 months or longer.
Morrison says he doesn't know what the specifics of any "sunshine" legislation on teachers contracts would be, but said he found it important to weigh in as a state legislator.
"Decisions made on the salaries at the local level absolutely affect pension liabilities at the state level," Morrison said. "We're trying to rein in those end-of-career salary spikes."
District 15 Superintendent Scott Thompson says requiring voter review or approval on a teachers contract could be problematic in cases when teachers are striking.
In those cases, Thompson says, requiring a district to have a finalized document for voters to approve or review before the agreement is enacted would likely leave teachers and students out of the classroom for an even longer period of time.
Morrison and state Sen. Matt Murphy began decrying the 10-year contract at the May 11 board meeting with a letter read by a legislative aide.
"We appreciate the board's stated goal of planning out future expenses to save money," said the letter. "However, locking the district, area taxpayers and future school boards into a 10-year labor contract is not the way to proceed."