Updated March 13, 12:00 p.m.
There will be no changes to the existing contract with union employees at Riverside-Brookfield High School next year. Talks between the District 208 school board and the Riverside Brookfield Education Association (RBEA) about possible changes to the existing contract have broken off.
The RBEA offered some type of wage freeze in exchange for an extension of the current contract, but the two sides could not come to an agreement. Last week, a joint press release issued by District 208 school board President Matt Sinde and RBEA President Dave Monti announced the end of the talks about modifying the current contract.
“The District 208 Board of Education and the Riverside Brookfield Education Association have concluded their informal discussions concerning possible changes to the current salary schedule and an extension of the contract between District 208 and the RBEA,” the press release said.
“The board and association were able to have candid discussions about the impact of the current contract on the district. The discussions did not result in any changes to the contract but a foundation was laid for the expectations each has of the next contract.
“Each party wants to express its appreciation to the other for their willingness to engage in this type of discussion.”
District 208 school board President Matt Sinde refused to say why the board did not accept the union’s offer of a wage freeze.
“I’m not going to talk about informal proposals,” Sinde said. “The press release states everything we want to say about this.”
Monti also declined to comment about the talks, except for confirming that the RBEA had offered a wage freeze when he was asked if that had occurred.
“It is inappropriate and counterproductive for negotiation issues to be rehashed and discussed in public, especially in a newspaper,” Monti said in an email.
The current five-year contract was signed in 2008 and expires on June 30, 2013. Three members of the school board and the executive board of the RBEA engaged in informal discussions last fall and entered into more formal negotiations in December about modifying the last year of the contract.
District 208 Superintendent Kevin Skinkis has said that the raises in the last year of the contract will cost the district about $550,000 next year. The school board is trying to close a projected deficit for the 2012-13 fiscal year that has been projected to be more than $1 million. On Tuesday after the Landmark’s press time the school board was expected to approve sending layoff notices to between 10 and 14 teachers.
Some have said that the current contract was poorly written and has been subject to many memorandums of understanding that interpret it. That could be one reason the board may not have been willing to extend the contract.
Next year the board and the RBEA will try to negotiate a new contract. Those negotiations could be difficult as the board tries to save money and map out a sustainable financial future for the district. It appears that the board wants to have a new contract in place before considering asking voters to approve a new referendum.
Sinde said the board is not thinking about a referendum and instead is focused on developing a budget for next year.
“The board has not even discussed the referendum,” Sinde said. “Right now the board is focused on developing and delivering a budget that [shows] we can live within our means.”