As board members, we were pleased to vote in favor of the new collective bargaining agreement between Riverside-Brookfield High School District 208 and the Riverside Brookfield Educational Association (RBEA). 

The agreement itself contains financial provisions and modifications that will allow the district to operate within its means. It also allows the district to continue to fairly compensate the teachers and staff who work so hard to provide the quality education and environment that our students receive at Riverside-Brookfield High School in a way that is sustainable.

Among the key provisions of this new agreement that we believe are important for the community to note are:

This three-year contract averages approximately a 1.7 percent overall salary and benefit cost increase per year.

Modifications to health care contributions and coverage bring the district plan more in line with health care coverage in our area.

Modifications were made to the salary schedule to both lengthen the step progression and reduce the number of lanes.

The district will be allowed to more freely use properly vetted volunteers to assist in extra-curricular activities.

Changes to the retirement provisions will reduce district costs going forward.

The flexible approach brought by negotiators on both sides allows RB to move forward without the threat of a strike or layoffs and without the need for a tax referendum.

Tremendous credit goes to the negotiators: District 208 board President Matt Sinde, board member Garry Gryczan and Superintendent Dr. Kevin Skinkis and the RBEA negotiators led by President Wendy Cassens. 

Although grappling with difficult issues and tight economic constraints, both sides focused on the district’s mission, including their partnership, and its focus on our students’ education. 

Both groups were reasonable, creative and willing to compromise. They worked very hard over many hours to achieve a balance that serves well our students, teachers and staff, taxpayers and overall community. 

We recognize, in particular, our superintendent, Dr. Kevin Skinkis, for his leadership and even-handed approach to the difficult issues facing both sides. He worked very hard to both assure that the board was well-prepared for negotiations and that positions of both the board and RBEA were understood by both sides. We believe that his leadership went far towards securing this agreement.

Maybe most importantly, the collaborative and reasonable approach taken by the board, administration and the RBEA throughout this process, including the RBEA members in ratifying the agreement, underscores the commitment by all to providing a quality and cost-effective education to our students. 

It bodes well for cooperation on innovative, educational efforts during the years of this agreement and sets forth a model for future negotiations.

Ed Jepson and Tim Walsh, board members

RBHS District 208 school board