Negotiations begin Wednesday on a new contract for teachers and other employees at Riverside-Brookfield High School. The current five-year contract expires on June 30.
Representatives of the school board and the Riverside Brookfield Education Association, the union representing teachers and other workers at the school, are holding their first negotiating session March 20.
The school board is being represented at the bargaining table by District 208 board President Matt Sinde and board member Garry Gryczan, who has the deepest background in finance.
“We look forward to negotiating a contract with the teachers which will help to provide a good future for our students and RB,” said Sinde, who is up for re-election on April 9. “Hopefully we’ll come out with a real good contract.”
The school board has been preparing for the negotiations for months, holding regular closed-session meetings with experts on things such as health benefits, school finance and other areas that are relevant to the negotiations.
Unlike the last contract negotiation, the school board has hired an attorney with extensive experience in teacher contract negotiations to represent the board. The attorney is Lynn Himes, a partner with the law firm Scariano, Himes and Petrarca. District 208 Superintendent Kevin Skinkis will also sit in on the negotiations.
Skinkis said that he is not concerned about the law firm’s recent issues with Riverside Elementary School District 96.
“Lynn did not do any work for District 96 except, I think, for one board meeting when he had to sit in for Anthony’s [Scariano] absence,” Skinkis said. “Lynn specifically interviewed with the board and the board specifically chose Lynn, so I don’t think it has any reflection or impact on District 208.”
The contract negotiations could be difficult and lengthy. The school faces an uncertain financial future after the defeat of a property tax referendum two years ago.
Only one member of the current school board, Laura Hruska, was on the school board when the current contract was approved. Hruska was the lone vote against that contract, which was approved in April 2008 after negotiations had begun the previous fall.
This time around negotiations are beginning much later and could be much more difficult as the board looks for ways to save money.