Federal mediator assisting District 219, teacher talks in Skokie
Updated: August 20, 2012 11:29AM
SKOKIE — A federal mediator is assisting Niles Township High School District 219 and its teachers union with settling next year’s contract, according to a joint statement from the two parties.
Jim Szczepaniak, community relations director for the district, said the School Board and the Niles Township Federation of Teachers engaged a mediator and agreed to issue a shared public statement but would not comment further on the details of the contract discussions.
The current teachers contract, which had been in place since 2009, is set to expire Aug. 20.
Mediation services are provided by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service at no cost to the district or union, the release states. The mediator began meeting with the two negotiating teams July 13.
The statement notes issues that have remain unresolved since March, including matters involving teaching and learning, such as school day; teacher evaluation; salaries; benefits; pensions; and extracurricular pay.
Public-employee pay has also been on the minds of residents as of late.
Since the village issued property tax bills issued last month, District 219 has come under fire by residents upset with rate increases that fund the public school system.
According to expenditure data from fiscal year 2011, District 219 employee salary and benefits accounted for nearly 84 percent of the educational fund budget, for a total of $69.9 million.
Property taxes that same year accounted for $116.4 million of district revenue.
“No one is happy that taxes on property have gone up,” Szczepaniak said.
He added that members of the board of directors are taxpayers in the district, too, and are doing their best to be financially prudent.
“We understand that we’re not living in the good old days when we could spend more money and ask for more tax dollars,” he said.
A phone message for Steve Grossman, president of the Niles Township Federation of Teachers, was not immediately returned.