By Bob Skolnik
Two local school districts are negotiating new teacher contracts, as the union deals are expiring this summer. Teachers in Riverside Elementary School District 96 and Lyons-Brookfield School District 103 are currently without contracts for the upcoming school year.
District and union negotiating teams in District 96 met for about two hours on July 9 in the L.J. Hauser Junior High School library for their first negotiating session since school got out in early June. Negotiations began in February.
"We really covered a variety of topics," said District 96 Superintendent Martha Ryan-Toye after the negotiating session. "Everything from the working day, working year and economics."
Another negotiating session is scheduled for next week.
Ryan-Toye did not directly answer whether the school board is trying to eliminate the automatic step increases that some school districts, including Riverside-Brookfield High School and Brookfield-LaGrange Park District 95, have done away with in recent years.
Step increases allow most teachers to get two raises in the same year, one an increase in base pay and then the raise which comes with advancing another "step" on the salary schedule.
"We're looking at a full range of options with compensation," Ryan-Toye said.
The board's negotiating team includes school board President Jeff Miller and board finance committee chairman Rich Regan, Ryan-Toye, Hollywood School Principal Kim Hefner and attorney Shelli Anderson.
Both Miller and Ryan-Toye described the negotiations as cordial.
It would not be unusual for District 96 teachers to start the school year without a contract. Two of the last three contracts were not agreed to until after the school year began.
"It's first time I've done this, but from what I gather it's not uncommon that it runs past the expiration," Miller said.
In District 103 the last negotiating session was held June 29 and the next negotiating session is scheduled for early August. Negotiations began in District 103 in the spring.
District 103 school board President Marge Hubacek said that she hopes that negotiations can be wrapped up fairly quickly after the August session.
"We're well into it and, hopefully, once we meet, it won't be much longer," Hubacek said.
Hubacek didn't say much about what kind of contract that she would like to see.
"I just want it to be fair for both sides," Hubacek said. "I really can't say much more than that right now."