Ives points to Palatine as evidence of need to let taxpayers in on school contracts
Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) says a contractual impasse with support staff at Palatine Township Elementary District 15 demonstrates the urgent need for the General Assembly to approve her legislation that would allow taxpayers to review contracts before they are approved by the union and voted on by the board.
“D15 taxpayers deserve to be part of the final conversation on this contract,” Ives said. “What should be inserted in the negotiations is a hearing where taxpayers can weigh in before final action is taken.”
On Monday, members of the Education Support Personnel Association (ESPA) ended a two-week strike and returned to work under the threat of being replaced if they stayed off the job.
No new contract negotiations have been scheduled.
Ives and others monitoring the four-month contract dispute with the 454 members of the ESPA cite the influence of a 10-year teacher contract the district negotiated a year ago that included 40 percent pay increases and frozen health-care contributions. They said that ESPA members, who include secretaries, clerical workers, nurses and special ed classroom aides, approached their negotiations in light of the generous contract awarded the teachers.
ESPA is an affiliate of the Illinois Education Association, the teachers’ union.
But last April, voters tossed out the board over the teachers’ contract and a controversial referendum for the building of a new school they placed on the ballot. The voters rejected that referendum last November.
“The new board is working on behalf of the community and facing a union with expectations that conflict with the community priorities," Pete Dombrowski, a member of the Township High School District 211 board. D15 is a feeder school for D211.
Ives added that the recent change to the education funding formula and the promise of additional funding every year for districts for 10 years is another cause for concern moving forward.
“Public employees are looking for their share of the pie,” she said. “In the D15 contract, many of these aides, especially those working at the lower pay scale and with the kids with disabilities, deserve a fair wage for the challenging work they do. That said, there are perks working in the educational system that cannot be found in other jobs, such as shorter work days and lengthy breaks during the year, that should be considered in developing any pay package.”