RBHS board votes to reopen contract talks with teachers

D208 also hires law firm to handle union negotiations

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By BOB SKOLNIK

Tuesday night, as expected, the Riverside-Brookfield District 208 school board voted unanimously to enter into collective bargaining with the Riverside Brookfield Education Association (RBEA) about modifying the current contract between the school and its union employees.

The school board will be seeking concessions and changes to the contract as the school deals with a difficult financial situation and looks to cut expenses.

"We want to provide solutions that will continue to provide our kids a great education," said District 208 school board President Matt Sinde.

On Dec. 8 RBEA members voted 95-5 to authorize its negotiating team to enter into negotiations with the school board about its current contract, which runs until June 30, 2013.

In a related move Tuesday night, the school board voted 5 to 2 to hire the law firm of Scariano, Himes & Petrarca to represent the board for collective bargaining purposes.

This will be the first time in at least 12 years that the school board has hired a law firm to actively participate in contract negotiations.

Scariano, Himes & Petrarca is a law firm that specializes in representing school districts and currently represents more than 100 school districts and special education and vocational education cooperatives according to the firm's web site. It is the law firm used by Riverside Elementary School District 96.

"The majority of the board felt this was the firm they wanted to go with," Sinde said. "To me, they were the best law firm to help us with this situation."

Last week the District 208 school board interviewed six law firms, including its current firm Franczek Radelet PC before settling on Scariano, Himes & Petrarca to represent the board in negotiations.

Franczek Radelet will continue to represent the board and school district on other matters.

Board members Tim Walsh and Laura Hruska voted against hiring Scariano, Himes & Petrarca. They said after the meeting that they preferred using another firm, but declined to name the firm that they favored.

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